Federal prosecutors have accused a New York-based firm of falsely claiming security equipment sold to the U.S. military was made in the U.S. when it was actually produced in China.
The Associated Press reported that Aventura Technologies Inc., based in Long Island, allegedly “sold tens of millions of dollars in Chinese-made surveillance and other sensitive security equipment to customers, including the U.S. military to use on aircraft carriers, by falsely claiming the goods were manufactured in America.”
U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue is now investigating the company, and said evidence suggested “individuals in China were well aware of what was going on,” though it does not appear as though the Chinese government was directly involved with the purchases.
The equipment was “installed on dozens of Army, Navy and Air Force bases, Department of Energy facilities and, among other places, on Navy aircraft carriers,” according to the criminal complaint reviewed by the AP.
Not only did the company allegedly falsely claim its products were made in America, but prosecutors accuse it of covering up its lies by relabeling merchandise to show U.S. labels. The AP reported that the company “also circulated a photo that an Aventura executive, Jack Cabasso, showed the company’s assembly line, but was actually an image of workers in a Chinese facility.”
In 2018, Cabasso emailed an employee of the Chinese manufacturer and implored him to make sure the products couldn’t be traced back to China. He feared customers would see the Chinese company’s logo on circuit boards. Cabasso asked the company to hide the logos, the AP reported. More from the AP:
The scheme began to unravel after the company sold 25 body cameras to the U.S. Air Force, security analysts discovered downloaded images including a logo of the Chinese Ministry of Public Security on the devices, the complaint said. A software analysis found indications that the camera’s manufacturer in China “had been aware that the U.S. Air Force was the intended end user of the camera.”
Cabasso and six other current and former employees have been charged “with conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud,” the AP reported. Cabasso’s bank accounts have been frozen and his 70-foot yacht has been seized.
The International Business Times reported that the products sold by Aventura presented a cybersecurity risk for the U.S. government. Donoghue said the company’s actions were of “grave concern” for America’s cybersecurity, since the products carried a security risk.
The outlet reported that Aventura made $88 million since 2010, $20.7 million of which came from federal government contracts.
This criminal complaint comes on the heels of another military purchasing scandal. This one, from May, also involved a New York-based company. In that case, the company sold the U.S. military counterfeit equipment produced in China, including Multicam APECS Parkas that were supposed to counter night vision goggles, but didn’t.
“The sales were in violation of the Berry Amendment and the Trade Agreements Act, which require goods sold to the military and certain government buyers to be manufactured in either the United States or select countries,” the Military Times reported.