In August 2018, an Air Force service member noticed something strange about a body camera being used by security personnel at an Air Force base: Chinese characters on the screen. A subsequent investigation found numerous indications that the camera—and two dozen others in the same shipment—had been made in China.
Investigators found three telling logos in the camera’s firmware: an Air Force Logo, the logo of the Chinese company that made the camera, and the logo of China’s ministry of public security. Forensic analysis indicated that all three images had been loaded on the camera at the same time by someone in a Chinese time zone. This suggested that not only was the camera made in China, but the Chinese knew that the body camera would be shipped to an Air Force facility.
How did a Chinese-made digital camera wind up at a US Air Force base? In a criminal complaint unsealed Thursday, federal prosecutors blamed Aventura, a New York-based company that has been fraudulently re-selling Chinese-made gear for more than a decade. On Thursday, six of the company’s founders and senior officials were arrested and charged with fraud and other crimes.