Husband, wife team arrested for allegedly stealing US$23M from Cisco

Alleged scam involved using fake companies to obtain replacement parts from Cisco

Federal authorities arrested a husband and wife team for allegedly stealing US$23 million from Cisco in a scheme that had the network giant shipping replacement parts to fake businesses in eight states. The scheme reportedly defrauded Cisco's SMARTnet program. SMARTnet is Cisco's premium technical support program which promises, among other benefits, 2-hour, 4-hour and next-day delivery of replacement parts.

The man, 33-year-old, Mario Easevoli and his 28-year-old wife, Jennifer Leigh Harmon Easevoli, were doing business as North Carolina-based Synergy Communications Corp., officials say. He served as president and she served as vice-president. A third man is also being charged, 33-year-old Jason Allan Conway, but he is still at large.

An investigation by the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service lead to the arrest last month. These agencies allegedly found that the trio used dozens of fake names and fictitious companies to obtain replacement parts from Cisco. The parts were shipped to private mailboxes at UPS stores in eight states. The indictment said that more than 21 fake company names were used, and 80 fake personal names, to obtain those mailboxes.

Authorities allege that Jennifer Easevoli submitted fraudulent claims for replacement parts between January 2003 and July 2005 and then sold the parts to others, depositing the proceeds into a Synergy Communications Corp. bank account.

Easevoli was charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud, aiding and abetting mail fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Conspiracy to commit mail fraud and aiding and abetting mail fraud carries a maximum penalty of up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Conspiracy to commit money laundering carries a maximum penalty of up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000, or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction, whichever is greater.

Cisco Subnet blogger Brad Reese says that Easevoli bragged about her success on social networking site Classmates.com. He found entries by her that said, "For those of you who knew me and doubted me - I made it, and I made it big ... I am bigger and better than you thought I could be. I am more successful than I could have dreamed and I have had a great time all the while."

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