N.C. Couple Charged with Stealing $23M from Cisco

A husband and wife were arrested by federal authorities for running a fraud that cost Cisco more than $23 million in replacement parts. According to federal investigators, the couple, using false businesses and names, had Cisco send replacement parts to private UPS boxes. They then sold the parts and deposited the payments into an account bearing the name of their company, Synergy Communications. A third person-a Synergy employee-also was charged, but has not yet been arrested, according to federal authorities.

A husband and wife from North Carolina are under arrest for allegedly running a scam that stole more than $23 million from Cisco Systems.

According to federal prosecutors in North Carolina, 33-year-old Mario Easevoli and his wife, Jennifer Easevoli, 28, were arrested in Tucson, Ariz., Sept. 28 after an investigation that included the FBI, Internal Revenue Service and the Postal Inspection Service.

A third person, Jason Allan Conway, 33, also was indicted, but has not yet been arrested, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina.

According to a statement released by the U.S. Attorney's Office Oct. 13, Mario Easevoli set up a company called Synergy Communications, with him as president and his wife as vice president. Conway was an employee.

Between January 2003 and July 2005, the Easevolis and Conway submitted claims to Cisco's SMARTnet service, which offers users a quick turnaround on advance replacement parts, without the users being asked to return the failed part first.

The three then sold the replacement parts on what investigators called "the grey market" and deposited the payments into a Synergy bank account.

As part of the fraud, the three created more than 21 fictitious company names and 80 false personal names, and used private mailboxes at UPS stores throughout eight states as mailing addresses for receiving the parts and payments.

A federal grand jury returned indictments against the Easevolis and Conway Sept. 9, and unsealed the indictments Sept. 23. The three were charged with conspiring to commit mail fraud, aiding and abetting mail fraud, and conspiring to commit money laundering.

The maximum penalty for each charge is up to 20 years in prison and up to a $500,000 fine.