A company and its CEO has been whacked by a US federal court for conspiring to build and sell counterfeit Cisco gear.
According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations and court records, ConnectZone.com, LLC and owner, Daniel Oberholtzer conspired with a Chinese company to produce counterfeit Cisco Systems network products that were later sold on websites operated by ConnectZone as genuine products.
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A combination ICE and Seattle-Tacoma Border Enforcement Security Task Force investigation revealed the company obtained its counterfeit products from multiple foreign sources including the Shanghai, China-based Shenzhen Xiewei Electronic, LTD.ICE said the evidence included numerous emails sent between the conspirators as they ran their scheme including emails describing a plan for "Operation Cisco" in which the defendants laid out their plan to obtain counterfeit Cisco products. To evade detection, investigators say the defendants mislabeled the counterfeit shipments as "samples."
The U.S.-based conspirators falsely advertised the counterfeit goods as genuine and offered it for sale at a much lower price than genuine Cisco equipment, ICE stated.
In total, four people and two companies were charged in the indictment returned in January 2013. Defendant Edward Vales was sentenced June 13 to two years probation and five months' home confinement for mail fraud. Lance Wilder was convicted of conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods, two counts of mail fraud and four counts of trafficking in counterfeit goods following an April 7 jury trial. Wilder is scheduled to be sentenced July 25. Their Chinese co-conspirator Mao Ming, aka BoB Mao, remains at large, according to ICE.
At sentencing, judge Jones commented that Oberholtzer crimes were aggravated by the fact that because of the quality problems with the counterfeit goods, Oberholtzer “had no idea what might happen when the counterfeit Cisco products he sold failed.” Judge Jones also noted that the sentence of 37 months should “send a message to anyone else thinking about being involved in counterfeit goods.”
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