Local News

Feds: Couple defrauded Cisco of $23M

Posted October 14, 2009 3:43 p.m. EDT

— A Triangle couple has been charged in a scheme to defraud Cisco Systems Inc. of more than $23 million, authorities said Wednesday.

Mario Easevoli, 33, and his wife, Jennifer Leigh Harmon Easevoli, 28, were arrested in Tucson, Ariz., on Sept. 28 and charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud, aiding and abetting mail fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

A third person charged in the case, Jason Allan Conway, 33, hasn't been arrested yet.

Mario Easevoli was the founder and president of Synergy Communications Corp., his wife served as company vice president and Conway was a company employee, authorities said.

An investigation by the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service determined the three used dozens of fake names and fictitious companies to obtain replacement parts from Cisco, a leading manufacturer of routers and other computer network equipment. The parts were shipped to private mailboxes at UPS stores in eight states, authorities said.

The replacement parts were provided under a Cisco program that allows customers to obtain technical support and parts without first returning a failed or defective part. Authorities allege that the Easevolis and Conway 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 bank account.

“When individuals resort to making their living through fraudulent schemes, all consumers pay the price," U.S. Attorney George Holding said in a statement. "In order for the company to stay in business, they must raise the price of their goods and services to sustain their
losses.”