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FBI Arrests Couple Accused Of Defrauding Cisco Of $23 Million

The couple allegedly requested parts through Smartnet and sold them through gray market.

According to a statement from the FBI's Charlotte, N.C. office and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina, the FBI arrested 33-year-old Mario Easevoli and 28-year-old Jennifer Leigh Harmon Easevoli earlier this week with help from the IRS' criminal investigations unit and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

The Easevolis are a husband-and-wife duo and respectively the president and vice president of Synergy Communications Corp., based in Raleigh. A criminal indictment that was unsealed on Sept. 23 charges the Easevolis and a third defendant, Jason Allan Conway, with conspiring to commit mail fraud. Conway has not yet been arrested.

According to the indictment, from January 2003 to July 2005, the Easevolis submitted claims to Cisco's Smartnet program, requesting replacement parts for apparently fictitious accounts.

Cisco does not require users to send back failed parts before it sends replacements. As the Easevolis received those parts, they'd turn around and sell them through gray market channels, pocketing the payments and putting them in a bank account registered to Synergy, the indictment alleges.

"After creating more than 21 fictitious company names and 80 fictitious personal names, the defendants obtained private mailboxes at UPS stores throughout eight states, instructing Cisco to ship the replacement parts to these addresses," investigators charged.

Easevolis and Conway are charged with conspiring to commit mail fraud, aiding and abetting mail fraud and conspiring to commit money laundering, according to the statement from the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's Office. Each charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $500,000.

Cisco could not be reached for comment on the charges Friday.

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

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