Man arrested in Florida and charged with importing counterfeit Cisco networking equipment into the United States, worth an estimated $1 billion
The issue of selling fake Cisco equipment is once again in the headlines, with the news that a man in Florida has been arrest and charged.
Onur Aksoy, 38, of Miami, allegedly worked with suppliers in China and Hong Kong from 2013 to 2022 to import tens of thousands of fake devices through at least 19 entities in New Jersey and Florida dubbed the Pro Network.
The sheer amount of imported counterfeit Cisco networking equipment, is said to be worth more than $1 billion if it was authentic, the US Attorney’s office in New Jersey announced on Friday.
Previous Cisco arrests
It should be noted that this is not the first time that someone has been arrested for selling fake Cisco equipment.
Back in May 2010, Silicon UK reported on Ehab Ashoor, then aged 49 of Sugarland, Texas, was sentenced to 51 months in prison and ordered to pay $119,400 (£80,284) in restitution to Cisco Systems for selling fake Cisco kit.
Two other men were also arrested in the same case.
In January 2010, Yongcai Li, 33, a resident of China, was sentenced to 30 months in prison and ordered to pay $790,683 in restitution to Cisco Systems as a result of his conviction for trafficking in counterfeit Cisco products.
Li was doing business as Gaoyi Tech, a company located in Shenzhen, China. Li procured counterfeit Cisco products in China in response to orders and then shipped the products to the United States.
Then in 2015, British police dismantled a criminal operation and arrested three people in connection with the selling of counterfeit Cisco equipment worth £6.6m.
Three men were arrested as part of the operation. This included a 36-year old man from Sawbridgeworth, and a 35-year old from Birchanger, both of whom were arrested at their homes.
Another man, aged 38, was arrested at his place of work in Bishops Stortford.
All three were charged with suspicion of running a counterfeit business that sold in excess of $10 million (£6.6m) worth of counterfeit Cisco equipment.
The police said the group were believed to be importing, exporting and selling counterfeit Cisco networking products through a company website and telesales operation.
According to British Police, between December 2012 and April 2015 40 shipments of suspected counterfeit Cisco products were allegedly sent from the suspects’ business in the UK to the United States.
These shipments were apparently intercepted by US Customs and Border Protection.
And now a new case shows that trafficking in counterfeit computer components continues to be problem for major network equipment manufacturers.
Onur Aksoy arrest
According to the US Attorney’s office in New Jersey, Onur Aksoy, aka “Ron Aksoy” and “Dave Durden,” 38, of Miami, Florida, were charged with one count of conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods and to commit mail and wire fraud; three counts of mail fraud; four counts of wire fraud; and three counts of trafficking in counterfeit goods.
The officials allege Aksoy resold the devices to unwitting customers, with the devices’ origins having been disguised with fake Cisco labels, packaging and documentation.
“Aksoy allegedly ran at least 19 companies formed in New Jersey and Florida as well as at least 15 Amazon storefronts, at least 10 eBay storefronts, and multiple other entities (collectively, the “Pro Network Entities”) that imported tens of thousands of fraudulent and counterfeit Cisco networking devices from China and Hong Kong and resold them to customers in the United States and overseas, falsely representing the products as new and genuine,” said the US Attorney’s office in New Jersey.
“The operation allegedly generated over $100 million in revenue, and Aksoy received millions of dollars for his personal gain,” it added.
The DoJ alleged the devices the Pro Network Entities imported from China and Hong Kong were typically older, lower-model products, some of which had been sold or discarded, which Chinese counterfeiters then modified to appear to be genuine versions of new, enhanced, and more expensive Cisco devices.
The Chinese counterfeiters often added pirated Cisco software and unauthorised, low-quality, or unreliable components. To make the devices appear new, genuine, high-quality, and factory-sealed by Cisco, the Chinese counterfeiters allegedly added counterfeited Cisco labels, stickers, boxes, documentation, packaging, and other materials.
The DoJ said the counterfeit products sold by the Pro Network Entities suffered from numerous performance, functionality, and safety problems. Often, they would simply fail or otherwise malfunction, causing significant damage to their users’ networks and operations – in some cases, costing users tens of thousands of dollars.
It said that customers of Aksoy’s fraudulent and counterfeit devices included hospitals, schools, government agencies, and the military.
Cease and desist
And it seems that Cisco was aware of Aksoy’s activities.
From 2014 to 2019, Cisco sent seven letters to Aksoy asking him to cease and desist his trafficking of counterfeit goods.
Aksoy allegedly responded to at least two of these letters, with his attorney allegedly providing Cisco with forged documents.
In July 2021, agents executed a search warrant at Aksoy’s warehouse and seized 1,156 counterfeit Cisco devices with a retail value of over $7 million.