The Department of Justice rarely indicts people it has no genuine hope of prosecuting, but an exception was recently made in the case of two Chinese nationals, Wan Li Yuan and “Jason Jiang” (true name unknown). The men, who will surely not be foolish enough to travel to these shores again, are alleged to have gotten their hands on some devices manufactured by Lattice Semiconductor—devices that, because they have obvious military applications, are not supposed to be exported without government clearance. What is astounding about the case is the elegance of the subterfuge employed by Yuan and “Jiang,” who took a page out of the con-man playbook by taking advantage of an unsuspecting intermediary. The whole devious plot is outlined in the richly detailed indictment (PDF):
Defendant Wan Li Yuan falsely claimed to be a person named Nicholas Bush, and falsely claimed to be an employee of Company A, a company located in New York. Defendant also falsely claimed that Company A had a website. In reality, defendant was associated with a China-based company called China Wingwish Group Co., Ltd., which was involved in the procurement of dual-use electronic goods…
On or about April 6, 2010, defendant Wan Li Yuan, aka Wanli Yuan, aka Nicholas Bush, aka Nick Bush, aka Tony Yuan, caused a website to be created which falsely indicated that the website belonged to Company A of New York. Much of the design and wording on this fictitious website was copied from the website of a legitimate Canadian company with no connection to or association with defendant or his business or the business of Company A of New York.
Granted, Yuan seemed to build a fake site somewhat more sophisticated than, say the one for Jukt Micronics. But you have to think a simple Google search could have spared everyone a lot of heartache and loss. Simple frauds can be undone by simple measures.