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CBP Shuts Down Electronics Counterfeiting Conspiracy

Release Date: 
September 23, 2011

WASHINGTON, D.C.—A Chantilly, Va., woman, Chun-yu Zhao, recently received a 60-month prison sentence and heavy financial penalties for masterminding a conspiracy to import counterfeit computer networking equipment. U.S. Customs and Border Protection personnel using solid detective work and meticulous financial analysis were able to detect and bring Zhao to justice.


An open computer board following CBP inspection.

Phony labels helped CBP uncover a conspiracy to import counterfeit computer networking equipment.


"Besides cheating legitimate businesses, putting counterfeit electronics in sensitive computer networks, aircraft, and vehicles can threaten public safety and even undermine national security," said CBP Commissioner Alan D. Bersin. "This case is a prime example of the way CBP protects the public from unfair and unsafe imports."

CBP officers intercepted computer networking products that were believed to be counterfeit. CBP's National Targeting and Analysis Group, or NTAG, in California, pieced together common elements in hundreds of unrelated shipments that ultimately identified the Zhao operation.

The smoking gun in this case was a shipment of bogus Cisco Systems labels that the NTAG identified and referred to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. These phony labels indicated Zhao's knowledge and intent to import and sell counterfeit goods. It also allowed the government to get a search warrant and to carry out a controlled delivery that caught Zhao with the counterfeit goods red-handed.

To untangle enormous volumes of evidence, CBP regulatory audit personnel assisted case agents in connecting the dots to reveal all the accounts, assets, and entities involved. They deciphered handwritten documents to uncover and explain all the parts of the financial big picture.

CBP works cooperatively with intellectual property rights owners like Cisco Systems to stop imports of counterfeit goods while minimizing any disruption to the flow of legitimate merchandise.

Protecting intellectual property rights and promoting import safety are major CBP priorities. In the past several years, CBP has been involved in more than 700 seizures of counterfeit computer networking equipment. These seizures played a critical role in most of the more than 30 felony convictions in counterfeit computer networking cases by federal prosecutors in the last five years.

"This case illustrates how well government agencies are assisting each other in sharing information and expertise," said Bersin. "There could not be a successful prosecution like the Zhao case without extensive multi-agency cooperation and collaboration."

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Last modified: 
February 9, 2017