the army trapped by a scammer, here is the whole story – La Nouvelle Tribune

A recent scandal rocks the US military, revealing a monumental deception orchestrated by an unscrupulous individual. For eight long years, a scammer managed to sell counterfeit computer equipment, disguised under the guise of genuine products from official suppliers. This scam, of unprecedented scale, has profoundly shaken the confidence of the American army in its own suppliers.

The mastermind behind this fraud, Onur Askoy, an American-Turkish national, was recently sentenced to six years in prison, accompanied by a colossal fine of 100 million dollars to be paid to the company Cisco, the main victim of his shenanigans. But the cost of his misdeeds does not stop there, since he will also have to compensate other injured parties, including the American army.

During the period from 2014 to 2022, Onur led what U.S. Attorney Vikas Khanna calls “one of the largest counterfeit trafficking operations ever.” His scheme, as simple as it was diabolical, consisted of acquiring network equipment from China and Hong Kong, which he then transformed into products from the Cisco brand, a giant in the IT sector. The components, although second-hand, were cleverly reworked to resemble official hardware, before being enhanced with pirated software to disguise their true nature.

The scammer’s ingenuity didn’t stop there: the products were delivered in Cisco-branded packaging, accompanied by authentic company documentation. To cover their tracks, Onur’s Chinese business partners shipped the packages to various fictitious addresses. A complex network of 19 fraudulent companies, spread between New Jersey and Florida, as well as sales through 15 Amazon accounts and 10 eBay accounts, completed this treacherous scheme.

Businesses were attracted by the competitive prices offered by Onur, ignoring the poor quality and fraudulent nature of the products. Even the American army, which guarantees strict standards of safety and reliability, has been fooled by its fake equipment. The Pentagon has thus acquired counterfeit products for its flight simulators, some even being used during real combat exercises.

But every deception comes to an end, and Onur Askoy’s was no exception. The military eventually noticed irregularities in the components, triggering an investigation that led to the seizure of all of his warehouses in 2021, and his arrest the following year.

The judge overseeing the case highlighted the disastrous consequences of this fraud, introducing thousands of counterfeit devices into the U.S. supply chain. But beyond the material losses, it is the confidence in suppliers that has been shaken.

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