Business entities in Florida and New Jersey, plus 25 storefronts on Amazon and eBay, sold old Cisco gear that had been cosmetically altered to seem like new, more advanced models, part of a conspiracy going back eight years.
The counterfeit-distribution operation was selling the networking devices for a tenth what it would cost if they were legitimate, according to the US Department of Justice. It estimated the conspiracy took in more than $100 million in revenue, and that — if the equipment had been what it was purported to be—would have retailed for more than $1 billion.
The devices were tricked out with “counterfeit labels, stickers, boxes, documentation, and packaging that made the goods falsely appear to be new, genuine, and high-quality devices,” according to a DoJ press release.
The counterfeits sometimes included pirated Cisco software and low-quality components, including ones to bypass Cisco software checks to authenticate the hardware and verify license compliance, according to the DoJ.
The sold products often malfunctioned or failed, damaging the networks and operations of the users, sometimes at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars. Purchasers of the bogus devices included hospitals, schools, government agencies, and the military, the DoJ said.
A 38-year-old Miami man has been charged with running the operation, identified as “the Pro Network Entities”, that imported tens of thousands of the fraudulent devices from China and Hong Kong.
Onur Aksoy, also known as Ron Aksoy, also known as Dave Durden, is 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 DoJ said. He was arrested in Florida June 29.
This month federal agents seized 1,156 counterfeit Cisco devices with a retail value of over $7 million from an Aksoy warehouse, according to the DoJ. Some of Pro Network’s entities have existed since 2013, and the business has been on the radar of federal law enforcement since 2014.
According to the indictment, US Customs and Border Protection seized about 180 shipments of the devices between 2014 and 2022.
Cisco was also aware, and between 2014 and 2019 “sent seven letters to Aksoy asking him to cease and desist his trafficking of counterfeit goods,” the DoJ said. Earlier this year, Cisco told its customers about steps they should take “to verify the authenticity and integrity of our solutions.”
Named entities that sold the counterfeits
According to the DoJ, these are business entities involved in the scheme:
In Florida: Netech Solutions LLC; Target Network Solutions LLC; Maytech Trading LLC; NFD Trading LLC; Kenet Solutions LLC; Tenek Trading LLC; The Network Gears LLC; All Networking Solutions LLC (aka All Network); San Network LLC; Pro Network US Inc.; Jms Tek LLC; Renewed Equipment LLC; and Pro Ship US LLC.
In New Jersey: Pro Network LLC; Easy Network LLC; ACE NETUS LLC (aka Ace Network); My Network Dealer LLC; 1701 Doral LLC; and Team Tech Global LLC.
These are the Amazon storefronts involved, according to the DoJ:
Albus Trade Hub; EasyNetworkUS; Get Better Trade; Mercadeal; Netech Solutions; Netkco LLC; NFD Trading LLC; Palm Network Solutions; Renewed Equip; Servtaur; Smart Network; SOS Tech Trade; Target-Solutions; TeamTech Global; andTradeOrigin US.
These are the eBay storefronts involved, according to the DoJ:
Connectwus; futuretechneeds; getbettertrade; getontrade; maytechtradingllc; netechsolutions; netkco; nfdtrading; smartnetworkusa; and tenektradingllc.