Northport Woman Guilty in Chinese Spy Gear Scam
By Rupert Deedes
Frances Cabasso, age 63, from Northport, has pled guilty to fraudulently posing as the owner of her husband's Commack-based company, which itself has been charged with selling counterfeit Chinese spy gear to the US government.
The FBI complaint, filed in federal court in Brooklyn, charged that Aventura Technologies, a Commack-based surveillance and security equipment company, and seven of its current and former employees, sold Chinese-made equipment - with known cybersecurity vulnerability - to US government and private customers, while falsely representing that the equipment was made in the United States.
Cabasso concealed that the products were manufactured in the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
Aventura grossed more than $88 million in sales from 2010 to 2019, including over $20 million in federal government contracts, according to federal prosecutors. The counterfeit spy gear scam had been ongoing since 2006.
Four individual defendants were also charged with defrauding the US government by falsely claiming that Frances Cabasso was the owner and operator of the company in order to obtain access to valuable government contracts reserved for "women-owned businesses."
Frances Cabassos and her husband Jack Cabasso are also charged with laundering the monetary proceeds of these fraudulent schemes.
The Cabassos and Aventura lied to its customers - including the US military, the federal government and private customers in the United States, according to the FBI.
Under federal government procurement laws and regulations, a product’s country of origin has security implications - particularly when the product originates in China, where Chinese intelligence embeds "back door" spy or malware for espionage or military attacks on the US military and critical infrastructure.
Aventura falsely claimed that it was manufacturing its products at its headquarters in Commack, when in fact, Aventura did not manufacture anything in the United States.
The networked security products from PRC which Aventura was importing were known to have cybersecurity vulnerabilities, and resold them to U.S. military and other government installations.
Aventura similarly deceived private customers in the United States and abroad who paid a premium for what they believed to be "military-grade" American-made goods.
Jack and Frances Cabasso siphoned Aventura’s illegal profits out of the company through a network of shell companies and intermediaries, according to the FBI. These funds were then directed to investments owned by the Cabassos or controlled for their benefit.