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Federal Judge Sentences U.S.-Turkish Citizen to 6.5 Years for Selling Counterfeit Computer Networking Equipment

Title: Counterfeit Networking Equipment Dealer Sentenced to Prison for Supplying U.S. Military

A dual U.S.-Turkish citizen, Onur Aksoy, has been sentenced to six and a half years in prison for his involvement in a scheme to sell counterfeit computer networking equipment. This equipment, including items used to support U.S. military aircraft, was purchased by both private sector buyers and U.S. government users. The case demonstrates the serious consequences of trafficking in counterfeit goods and raises concerns about the security and integrity of the supply chain.

Counterfeit Software from China:
Aksoy’s illicit operation involved sourcing counterfeit networking equipment from suppliers in Hong Kong and mainland China. By selling these counterfeits at a fraction of the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP), Aksoy’s network, known as the “Pro Network,” generated around $100 million in gross revenue. However, customers who purchased these counterfeit goods found them to be substandard, used, or broken, causing significant damage to their networks. This highlights the risks associated with counterfeit products infiltrating critical sectors such as healthcare, education, and even national defense.

Joint Investigation and Break in the Case:
The scheme was uncovered through a joint investigation by several law enforcement agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) unit, the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS), the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The investigation revealed that Aksoy’s Pro Network operated through online platforms, including Amazon, but some product listings were eventually shut down due to suspicions of counterfeit Cisco products.

A significant breakthrough occurred during a search warrant at Pro Network’s warehouse and headquarters in Florida. Law enforcement officials seized over 1,100 purported Cisco devices during the raid, with an estimated combined MSRP value of over $7 million. This seizure provided crucial evidence of the scale and impact of Aksoy’s counterfeit operation.

Aksoy’s Plea Deal and Consequences:
In May 2023, Aksoy pleaded guilty to charges of conspiring to commit fraud and mail fraud. As part of his plea agreement, several additional charges were dropped. On May 2, 2024, U.S. District Judge Peter G. Sheridan sentenced Aksoy to 78 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. Additionally, Aksoy was ordered to pay a $40,000 fine and $100 million in restitution to Cisco. The court may also assess further restitution payments to victims at a later date.

The Implications:
Principal Deputy Assistant U.S. Attorney General Nicole M. Argentieri, head of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, emphasized the significant consequences of Aksoy’s actions. The counterfeit networking equipment sold by Aksoy ended up in critical sectors such as hospitals, schools, and highly sensitive military systems, including those supporting advanced U.S. fighter jets and military aircraft. This case highlights the broader issue of criminals flooding the supply chain with low-quality equipment from China and Hong Kong, posing risks to businesses, public safety, and national security.

The sentencing of Onur Aksoy for his role in trafficking counterfeit computer networking equipment underscores the gravity of such crimes. The case serves as a warning about the dangers of counterfeit goods infiltrating crucial sectors and compromising national security. Collaboration between law enforcement agencies and the prosecution of those involved are vital to protecting businesses, consumers, and government institutions from the risks posed by counterfeit products in the supply chain.

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