Long Island Firm Illegally Sold Chinese-Made Security, Surveillance Equipment, Reports Say

Charges Chinese surveillance goods illegally sold to US

Charges Chinese surveillance goods illegally sold to US

A Long Island firm sold tens of millions of dollars in Chinese-made surveillance and other sensitive security equipment to customers, including the USA military, by falsely claiming it was made in America, federal prosecutors said Thursday.

Staff were cuffed in a police raid on Thursday at the offices of United States surveillance equipment vendor Aventura Technologies.

On Thursday, federal prosecutors in Brooklyn said that the equipment had actually been made in China and was vulnerable to hacking, raising the possibility that American government agencies had installed software in their security networks that could be used for spying by China. The defendants were accused of lying to their American customers for more than a decade about the Chinese origins of the company's products.

"In reality the only things that were made in the United States were the lies that Aventura sold to its victims", said William Sweeney, the Federal Bureau of Investigation assistant director in charge, when announcing the bust.

Two of the Chinese manufacturers that supplied Aventura with equipment are known for producing firmware with security flaws, according to court documents. Six of the seven were charged today in a NY federal district court. The seventh defendant, Wayne Marino, was expected to surrender to the authorities on Friday. They all face charges of wire and mail fraud. Jack and Frances Cabasso, a married couple, were also charged with money laundering conspiracy. That includes surveillance systems bought by the U.S. Army, Air Force, Department of Energy and other U.S. agencies.

A call to the company by The Epoch Times for comment after normal business hours wasn't immediately returned.

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They also found the Cabassos dipped into Aventura's coffer to pay for a 70-foot luxury yacht, named the Tranquilo, which the pair took out for pleasure cruises and rented as a charter around New York, Florida and Aruba, according prosecutors.

According to the Justice Department, federal investigators uncovered the scheme by intercepting the shipments Chinese manufacturers sent to Aventura, and tracking their eventual arrival to the company's government customers.

The scheme's mastermind, prosecutors said, was Mr. Cabasso, the 61-year-old owner of Aventura and a resident of Northport. He was convicted of a handful of crimes relating to fraud, grand larceny, and corruption, among others, dating back to 1982. In total, the company pulled in $88 million in revenue since 2010, $20 million of which came from USA government contracts that prohibited Aventura from sourcing equipment from China.

While Jack effectively ran the company, the feds allege Aventura listed Frances as its president and CEO - in an effort to score government contracts by falsely billing itself as a woman-owned small business.

Since 2006, Aventura Technologies has been concealing that its products were made in China while raking in millions through lucrative contracts with the U.S. government and private businesses, the Justice Department alleged in today's announcement.

He called the practice a "big problem", the complaint said, and he expressed concerns about the cybersecurity issues connected to buying equipment from a Chinese company.

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