Cisco fraudster will pay $100M restitution, serve prison time

The CEO busted last June for running a $100 million counterfeit scheme selling fake Cisco networking products to companies all over the US – including the US military – has been sentenced in federal court.

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) said the now 40-year-old Miami resident, Onur Aksoy, was responsible for one of the largest counterfeit-trafficking trademark operations ever prosecuted in the United States.

The elaborate decade-long operation netted Aksoy over $100 million in profits, which he will have to payback to victims as part of a plea deal sentencing handed down Tuesday by the feds.

Besides restitution, Aksoy was also sentenced to six years in federal prison for his crimes.

According to prosecutors, Aksoy – a dual citizen of the US and Turkey – ran more than a dozen IT businesses as a front to import tens of thousands of low-quality computer networking devices from China and Hong Kong.

Once in his possession, the devices were repackaged with counterfeit Cisco labels, stickers, paperwork, and boxes and then sold within the US.

“Aksoy sold hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of counterfeit computer networking equipment that ended up in US hospitals, schools, and highly sensitive military and other governmental systems,” said Nicole M. Argentieri, the Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the DoJ’s Criminal Division.

Some of the fraudulent equipment included “platforms supporting sophisticated US fighter jets and military aircraft,” Argentieri revealed.

The businesses, known collectively as the “Pro Network Entities” consisted of at least 19 companies formed in New Jersey and Florida, as well as approximately 15 Amazon storefronts and at least 10 eBay storefronts.

The fake goods all bore "counterfeit trademarks registered and owned by Cisco," making them falsely appear to be "new, genuine, and high-quality devices" manufactured and authorized by the US communications and technology giant.

“Mr. Aksoy’s sentencing brings closure to his years-long, greed-driven scheme that wasted US taxpayer dollars,” said Special Agent in Charge Bryan D. Denny of the Department of Defense (DoD) Inspector General Office, DCIS Western Field Office.

The scheme “degraded our nation’s military readiness and knowingly defrauded the DoD by introducing counterfeit products into its supply chain that routinely failed or did not work at all,” Denny said.

“In doing so, he [Aksoy] sold counterfeit Cisco products to the DoD that were found on numerous military bases and in various systems, including but not limited to US Air Force F-15 and US Navy P-8 aircraft flight simulators,” Denny said.

After years of warning Aksoy to cease his trafficking of counterfeit goods, "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," the DoJ said.

Aksoy pled guilty to charges of conspiring with others to traffic in counterfeit goods and to commit wire fraud, and mail fraud last June.

Part of this weeks sentencing will also permit the destruction of the millions of dollars of counterfeit goods seized from his businesses, the DoJ said.

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