New York firm sold Chinese surveillance tools to US military claiming they're made in US

The company sold Chinese security tools to US military claiming they're US-made and they were installed in dozens of Army, Navy and Air Force bases, and Navy aircraft carriers

Representational Image.

A New York company was charged by Federal prosecutors for illegally importing and selling Chinese surveillance and security tools to customers in the US, including private companies and the military. US Attorney Richard Donoghue accused Aventuta Technologies Inc of fraud and causing security risk to the US government and called the issue a "grave concern" for the country's cybersecurity.

According to allegations made public in the federal court on Thursday, the Commack-based company has falsely told its customers that the products known to carry cybersecurity risk were made in the US but in reality, they were mainly imported from China. The scheme has been running undetected since 2006.

Investigation revealed that the image Aventura executive Jack Cabasso showed off as its company's assembly line was actually an image of workers in a Chinese factory. Charges have been framed against seven current and former employees and six of them including Jack Cabasso, who led the scheme, were arrested. Cabasso was sent to jail without bail while others, including Cabasso's wife, Frances Cabasso, were released.

US Defence
Representational Image. US Department of Defence

While prosecutor Donoghue stated that no security threat involving the Chinese government had been made out of the case, investigations, however, revealed that the "individuals in China were well aware of what was going on."

Chinese threat to US cybersecurity

Court files revealed that the security tools, under the impression of US-made products, were sold to the US military and installed in dozens of Army, Navy and Air Force bases, Department of Energy facilities as well as on US Navy aircraft carriers. While the company made $88 million since 2010, about $20.7 million came from federal government contracts alone, said the official statement.

The investigation began after a member of an Air Force security unit came across an image of the Chinese Ministry of Public Security logo on 25 body cameras sold by the company. A software analysis found that the camera's manufacturer in China "had been aware that the US Air Force was the intended end-user of the camera," Donaghue was quoted as saying.

Aventura's website claims the company has "a reputation for being an innovative designer, developer and manufacturer of security hardware, software and peripheral products for government, military and enterprise since 1999."