A Long Island company has been accused of selling Chinese-made security and surveillance equipment with known cybersecurity vulnerabilities as “made in USA” to the United States military.
It is alleged that since 2006, Aventura Technologies Inc., has been falsely claiming products made in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) were manufactured at its headquarters in Commack, New York.
The security and surveillance equipment company and its senior management team have been charged with fraud, money laundering, and illegal importation of equipment manufactured in the PRC by the US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
Aventura has generated over $88 million in sales revenue since November 2010, $20 million of which came from federal government contracts.
A statement released by the Department of Justice said: “Aventura imported networked security products from PRC manufacturers with known cybersecurity vulnerabilities, and resold them to US military and other government installations while claiming that they were American-made.
“Aventura similarly deceived private customers in the United States and abroad who paid a premium for what they believed to be American-made goods. As a result, Aventura not only defrauded its customers, but also exposed them to serious, known cybersecurity risks, and created a channel by which hostile foreign governments could have accessed some of the government’s most sensitive facilities.”
Products that Aventura imported from the PRC and then allegedly sold as made in the United States include 25 body cameras sold to the US Air Force in 2018, a $13,500 laser-enhanced night-vision camera purchased by the US Navy in 2019, and $156,000 worth of networked automated turnstiles bought by the Department of Energy in 2019.
In some cases, cameras shipped from the PRC were pre-marked with Aventura’s logo and the phrase “Made in USA,” accompanied by an American flag.
Aventura itself, and seven current and former employees of the company, have been charged with selling Chinese-made equipment with known cybersecurity vulnerabilities to government and private customers while falsely representing that the equipment was made in the United States and concealing that the products were manufactured in the PRC.
The individual defendants charged in the complaint are the company’s managing director and de facto owner and operator, Jack Cabasso, and his wife, Frances Cabasso, the company’s CEO and purported owner; senior executives Jonathan Lasker, Christine Lavonne Lazarus, and Eduard Matulik; current employee Wayne Marino; and 70-year-old recently retired former employee Alan Schwartz.
Four defendants are also charged with defrauding the US government by falsely claiming that Aventura Technologies was owned and operated not by Jack Cabasso, 61, but by his 59-year-old wife, Frances. This lie was allegedly perpetrated so that the company could win valuable government contracts that were strictly reserved for businesses owned by women.
The Cabassos, who live in a gated community in Northport, New York, have been charged with money laundering, and their 70-foot luxury yacht Tranquilo has been seized by the government. Twelve financial accounts containing around $3M of allegedly ill-gotten gains have been frozen.