Lady who sold fake Cisco gear sentenced to jail

We all know not to buy routers and servers from the guy in the trench coat hawking networking equipment on the street corner, but it turns out hardware-counterfeiting operations have become a bit more complicated in recent years.

A District Court judge in Virginia has ordered 43-year-old Chun-Yu Zhao to pay $2.7 million in restitution for selling counterfeit Cisco equipment. Zhao was also sentenced to 60 months in prison and stripped of her U.S. citizenship.

The Department of Justice called Zhao and company’s operation “sophisticated,” but the same can’t be said for the Web site of her company, JDC Networking Inc., one of the venues used to hawk the fake networking gear, which looks as though it was designed for Netscape version 1.0, complete with nifty scrolling text and funky “wordart” fonts straight outta Office 97.

While Zhao and her associates weren’t spending much on their Web presence, they spent plenty of their ill-gotten gains elsewhere, attempting to launder the funds by purchasing four homes in Maryland and northern Virginia and three condominiums with a total value of more than $2.6 million; a Porsche Boxster, Porsche Cayenne, and Mercedes sedan; and seven bank accounts containing more than $1.6 million. Judge Gerald Bruce Lee ordered that those assets be seized, along with Zhao’s passport.

Zhao was convicted in May of 16 felony counts, but wasn’t sentenced until Friday. According to court documents, Zhao and friends used counterfeit labels and packaging to mislead consumers. Not surprisingly, there was also found to have been a web of lies and fraud behind the operation, including falsified importation documents and citizenship applications.

Proceeds from the operation were hidden in a web of bank accounts and real estate held in the names of Zhao’s family members. In fact, it seems the money was laundered through just about every possible avenue except that god-awful Web site.

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