Traffickers in Counterfeit Cisco Networking Hardware Taken Down by Feds

A joint investigation by federal agencies leads to the conviction of several individuals trading in counterfeit Cisco network hardware.

A 49-year-old man has become the latest person brought down by a federal investigation targeting people trafficking in counterfeit Cisco network hardware.

"Ehab Ashoor, 49 ... [of] Sugarland, Texas, was sentenced in the Southern District of Texas to 51 months in prison and ordered to pay $119,400 in restitution to Cisco Systems, the Department of Justice said in a May 6 news release. Ashoor was found guilty Jan. 22 of purchasing counterfeit Cisco GBICs (Gigabit Interface Converters) "from an online vendor in China with the intention of selling them to the U.S. Department of Defense for use by U.S. Marine Corps personnel operating in Iraq. The computer network for which the GBICs were intended is used by the U.S. Marine Corps to transmit troop movements, relay intelligence and maintain security for a military base west of Fallujah, Iraq," the DOJ said.

"Trafficking in counterfeit computer components is a problem that spans the globe and impacts most, if not all, major network equipment manufacturers," Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer said in the DOJ statement. "As this operation demonstrates, sustained cooperation between law enforcement and the private sector is often a critical factor in disrupting and dismantling criminal organizations that threaten our economy and endanger public safety."

Dubbed Operation Network Raider, the investigation resulted in "more than 700 seizures of counterfeit Cisco network hardware and labels with an estimated retail value of more than $143 million. ... Nine individuals are facing trial and another eight defendants are awaiting sentencing."

Ashoor is not the first person to be sentenced because of the investigation. In January, "Yongcai Li, 33, a resident of China, was sentenced to 30 months in prison and ordered to pay $790,683 in restitution to Cisco Systems as a result of his conviction for trafficking in counterfeit Cisco products ... while doing business as Gaoyi Tech, a company located in Shenzhen, China. Li procured counterfeit Cisco products in China in response to orders and then shipped the products to the United States. Li was arrested by FBI agents in January 2009 while visiting Las Vegas," the DOJ said.

"During the last four years as part of Operation Network Raider and [a separate investigation called Operation] Cisco Raider, the FBI has executed 36 search warrants seizing counterfeit network components with an estimated retail value of more than $7 million," the DOJ continued.

"Individuals who break the law by attempting to profit from counterfeit technology do the marketplace great harm," said FBI Assistant Director Gordon Snow. "This case illustrates how effectively the private sector and law enforcement organizations work together to combat fraudulent goods and preserve the integrity of U.S. computer networks and infrastructure."