Florida man gets 6 years behind bars for flogging fake Cisco kit to US military

Operation busted after dodgy devices ended up at Air Force

Miami resident Onur Aksoy has been sentenced to six and a half years in prison for running a multi-million-dollar operation selling fake Cisco equipment that ended up in the US military.

Counterfeiting computer parts is nothing new, though Aksoy's scheme, which ran from 2014 to 2022, was innovative in its scale. He oversaw at least 19 companies in New Jersey and Florida, and had a significant online presence with 15 Amazon accounts and 10 eBay accounts.

"Through an elaborate, years-long scheme, Aksoy created and ran one of the largest counterfeit-trafficking operations ever," said Vikas Khanna, US attorney for the District of New Jersey.

Aksoy's business was buying cheap networking equipment from China and Hong Kong that had been modified to appear brand new and genuine from Cisco. The devices bore Cisco labels, came in Cisco boxes, and had authentic-looking Cisco documentation, but under the hood they used old, second-hand or discarded lower-end hardware with pirated software and components added to circumvent Cisco's anti-piracy mechanisms.

In effect, what people were buying was unwanted trash dressed up as legit, cutting-edge gear.

“His operation introduced tens of thousands of counterfeit and low-quality devices trafficked from China into the US supply chain, jeopardizing both private-sector and public-sector users, including highly sensitive US military applications like the support platforms of US fighter jets and other military aircraft," Khanna said.

US Customs officials intercepted 180 shipments of the counterfeit goods, but couldn't catch them all, as Aksoy and his Chinese business partners split up deliveries into smaller chunks and sent them to a variety of fake addresses. When packages were seized, Aksoy responded to investigators as "Dave Durden" and submitted forged paperwork for the kit.

The DoJ says in total, Aksoy's scheme generated hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue, including $100 million from his 10 eBay accounts termed the Pro Network Entities. Aksoy, 40, personally made millions of dollars, which is unsurprising as the margins on selling garbage for the price of high-end networking devices must be quite good.

His downfall? Defrauding the US military, of course

Aksoy wasn't very discreet about the nature of his job, and Cisco sent him multiple cease and desist notices from 2014 to 2019.

But eventually he irritated the wrong people. The Department of Defense had bought some of Aksoy's fake gear for flight simulators and some was even used in actual combat operations. Obviously, the DoD didn't find it very funny after being duped.

Unsurprisingly, Aksoy's warehouse was raided in 2021 and in 2022 he was finally arrested. He didn't put up a fight in court and in June pleaded guilty to the charges of trafficking counterfeit goods, mail fraud, and wire fraud. He has been waiting to be sentenced ever since.

This case should serve as a warning to those who attempt to sell counterfeit goods to the US government

"This case should serve as a warning to those who attempt to sell counterfeit goods to the US government," said Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) agent Greg Gross. At the latest, assuming his sentences are all consecutive and he doesn't get any brownie points for good behavior, Aksoy will be leaving prison in 2030.

Plus, he also has to pay restitution worth $100 million to Cisco and an undetermined amount to the victims of his fraud operation. Without the ability to sell fake network equipment, he may be working that debt off for quite a while.

A spokesperson for Cisco told us: "We applaud the decisive action taken by the US Department of Justice and all of the US law enforcement agencies involved for their investigative actions, the successful indictment, and the diligent work that led to today's outcome.

"The successful conclusion of this case, resulting from a complex investigation and strong collaboration with state and federal law enforcement, highlights Cisco's ongoing commitment to protecting our valued customers, legitimate authorized Cisco channel partners, and maintaining the integrity and quality of Cisco products and services." ®

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