Florida Man to Pay Cisco $100 Million in Restitution for Fake Equipment Scheme

By Staff
4 Min Read

Florida resident Onur Aksoy, 40, of Miami, a dual citizen of the United States and Turkey, was sentenced on May 1 to six years and six months in prison for running an enormous operation to traffic fraudulent and counterfeit Cisco networking equipment.

Aksoy agreed to pay Cisco restitution of $100 million, according to the Justice Department. He will also pay other victims amounts to be determined by the court at a later date. The hundreds of millions of dollars of counterfeit goods seized from his businesses will be destroyed.

Aksoy ran at least 19 companies formed in New Jersey and Florida, as well as approximately 15 Amazon storefronts and at least 10 eBay storefronts (collectively, the Pro Network Entities). The Pro Network Entities imported from suppliers in China and Hong Kong tens of thousands of low-quality, modified computer networking devices with counterfeit Cisco labels, stickers, boxes, documentation, and packaging, all bearing counterfeit trademarks registered and owned by Cisco. The devices had an estimated total retail value of hundreds of millions of dollars.

The Pro Network Entities generated more than $100 million in revenue from the scheme, and Aksoy personally received millions of dollars.

The devices 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 unauthorized, low-quality, or unreliable components—including components to circumvent technological measures added by Cisco to the software to check for software license compliance and to authenticate the hardware. Finally, to make the devices appear new, genuine, high-quality, and factory-sealed by Cisco, the Chinese counterfeiters added counterfeited Cisco labels, stickers, boxes, documentation, packaging, and other materials.

Fraudulent and counterfeit products sold by the Pro Network Entities suffered from numerous performance, functionality, and safety problems. The products often failed to operate or otherwise malfunctioned, causing significant damage to their users’ networks and operations. Customers of Aksoy’s devices included hospitals, schools, and government agencies.

In addition, numerous counterfeit devices originating from the Pro Network Entities were discovered in highly sensitive governmental applications, such as classified information systems. The devices were also identified in combat and non-combat operations of the U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, and U.S. Army, such as platforms supporting the F-15, F-18, and F-22 fighter jets, AH-64 Apache attack helicopter, P-8 maritime patrol aircraft, and B-52 Stratofortress bomber aircraft.

Between 2014 and 2022, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) seized approximately 180 shipments of counterfeit Cisco devices that were sent to the Pro Network Entities from China and Hong Kong. Aksoy responded to some of these seizures by falsely submitting official paperwork to CBP under the alias “Dave Durden,” an identity that he used to communicate with Chinese co-conspirators. To try to avoid CBP scrutiny, Chinese co-conspirators broke the shipments up into smaller parcels sent on different days, and Aksoy used fake delivery addresses in Ohio.

Between 2014 and 2019, Cisco sent seven letters to Aksoy asking him to cease and desist his trafficking of counterfeit goods. Aksoy responded to at least two of these letters by causing his attorney to provide Cisco with forged documents. In July 2021, agents executed a search warrant at Aksoy’s warehouse that led to the seizure of approximately 1,156 counterfeit Cisco devices with a retail value of over $7 million.

Aksoy pleaded guilty in June 2023 to conspiring with others to traffic in counterfeit goods and to commit mail fraud, wire fraud, and mail fraud.

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