A Military Camera Said 'Made in USA' The Screen Was in Chinese

Elias Hubbard
November 8, 2019

NEW YORK-Federal prosecutors have filed criminal charges accusing a NY company of illegally importing and selling to the USA military surveillance equipment made in China with known cybersecurity risks.

Mr. Cabasso was so brazen, according to a criminal complaint, that he emailed a government representative in 2016 to accuse other American contractors of selling surveillance products that were made in China.

Aventura's government customers include the US Army, US Navy, the US Air Force, the Department of Energy, and the Internal Revenue Service, among others.

Prosecutors allege that the company falsely labeled the products as being American made, while in fact they were mainly imported from China, in a scheme that ran from 2006 until recently.

Two of the Chinese manufacturers that supplied Aventura with equipment are known for producing firmware with security flaws, according to court documents. But over the years, Aventura received shipments from more than 40 different suppliers in China. Prosecutors say that some of the allegedly dodgy gear contained known security vulnerabilities.

The equipment made in China and sold by Aventura "as purportedly US -made has been installed on dozens of Army, Navy and Air Force bases, Department of Energy facilities and, among other places, on Navy aircraft carriers", prosecutors said in the criminal complaint. This involved telling one manufacturer to remove the Chinese brand's initials from circuit boards shipped to Aventura, and demanding another supplier delete mention of the Chinese company's name in the operating system.

By labeling the Chinese products as USA -made, Aventura was able to charge a premium on its customers, the statement said.

In one email exchange with a government official, he complained that there is a "big problem" with vendors "listing from a company that is actually the Communist Chinese Government and has "significant" cybersecurity issues", according to court documents.

Employees at Aventura Technologies Inc.in Commack, are expected to be charged in a federal indictment for illegally importing the equipment. Now seven current and former employees are facing charges.

"In reality the only things that were made in the United States were the lies that Aventura sold to its victims", said William Sweeney, the Federal Bureau of Investigation assistant director in charge, when announcing the bust. But the various agencies are likely ripping out, or at least trying to patch the vulnerable technology, before any hackers can exploit them. Then a year ago, a service member on an Air Force base noticed that an Aventura body camera displayed Chinese characters on the screen.

"Specifically, the specialist found that the camera contained multiple preloaded images that were apparently created to display on the camera's built-in screen", the criminal complaint says. The camera was one of 25 body cameras the U.S. Air Force purchased for their security personnel.

A call to the company by The Epoch Times for comment after normal business hours wasn't immediately returned. Cabasso and his wife, Frances Cabasso, were also charged with money laundering through shell companies, and misrepresenting the company as a "woman-owned" small business in order to obtain access to special government contracts.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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