Court documents allege since 2008, Kazahstan-born businessman Alexander Fishenko "acted as an unregistered agent" who, along with 11 others, used a fake traffic light electronics company in Houston to feed Russia computer parts for its military.
"As the documents lay out, this person was trying to evade the export control act by getting classified electronics to the Russian military. That's spying," Eric Friedberg, co-President of Stroz Friedberg, said.
A spy that according to the indictment may have done a lot of damage to national security, "sending hundreds of shipments " containing "thousands of controlled parts to Russia." Up to "$50-million" worth was stolen.
"This is obviously not an effort to just a get a couple of items to reverse engineer them, but the kind of effort to acquire technology in bulk, for deployment in systems," Friedberg said.
It's believed the computer components ended up in Russian radar and surveillance equipment, even in Russian fighter jets. This former US Assistant Attorney who now heads a computer security investigation firm says Wednesday's spy arrest underscores a growing concern with foreign theft of US technology.
"What we are seeing at Stroz and Friedberg is both on the cyber side and in this case the sort of the boots on the ground, traditional theft side, mass exportation of intellectual property by other countries," Friedberg said.
While these arrests are a major victory for the FBI, its believed this ring operated undetected for a long time.
The accounting records from the spy network's business showed a striking similarity between fluctuations in the money it made and the Russian military's defense spending.
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