Aventura Technologies, a New York-based security tech company found an unexpected caller at their front door Wednesday morning: federal agents, who came armed with warrants to search the premises and arrest several current and former employees. The reason? An elaborate scheme designed to pass off cheaply made Chinese counterfeit security technology as American products, which were then sold to the U.S. Army, Air Force, and other federal agencies.

The alleged scheme had been underway for more than a decade, with Aventura passing thousands of shipments of security technology including night vision and body cameras, as American-made. Their products have been installed in military bases and aircraft carriers. The formal charges against the 7 Aventura employees include conspiracy to commit wire fraud and illegal importation, with two of the employees (Jack and Frances Cabasso) also facing charges of money laundering conspiracy.

Counterfeit Chinese Tech

Counterfeit technology, particularly from China, poses an immense security risk. While the U.S. Attorney in Brooklyn, Richard Donaoghue, declined to state whether the case had been linked to any known Chinese espionage efforts or if any breaches had occurred that were connected with Aventura equipment.

However, he did remark that “This software that was then put into U.S. systems was known to have vulnerabilities that would allow others to access those networks. Obviously, it’s a grave concern to the United States that infrastructure is compromised by hardware and software made in the People’s Republic of China.”

The arrests of Aventura employees come at a time of tense diplomatic relations between the U.S. and China, with concern over Chinese tampering in American tech at an all-time high.

The Mastermind

Authorities allege that Aventura’s actions were architected by its owner, Mr. Jack Cabasso. In a memo requesting his detainment, the Feds characterize him as a shrewd con-man and skilled manipulator whose criminal record stretches back to the 1980s. Cabasso has several ties to Chinese businesses and faces separate false representations charges for, allegedly, misrepresenting his wife as Aventura’s CEO to secure Woman-Owned Small Business set-aside contracts. Federal agents also seized several of Cabasso’s private assets including a 70ft long luxury yacht.

Know Your Business

The alleged crimes of Aventura highlight a fundamental truth of the modern age: That knowing the origin of a technology is paramount to maintaining enterprise security. Nobody knows this better than the U.S. armed forces, where a single compromised component can be a matter of life and death. The U.S. Army thought they knew their first-tier supplier, but failed to learn who was in their sub-tiers until recently, after circulating thousands of shipments of compromised security hardware. Aventura assured the government that everything was made in a New York factory. Clearly, entities with sensitive interests such as the U.S Armed forces cannot rely upon their first-tier suppliers to accurately disclose their sub-tiers.

The story articulates the need for a total Supply Chain Monitoring solution, one that provides real-time visibility into every tier of a supply train.

Interos

Interos Inc., (Interos.ai) located in the Washington, D.C. area, delivers transparency, knowledge, and modeled outcomes so organizations can make smarter decisions about their global connections. Interos visualizes relationships, computes 3rd party relationship health, and monitors ecosystem interactions to reveal opportunities and risks. Interos serves customers in finance, aerospace, CPG, food, manufacturing, retail, technology and the government.