An individual has been arrested and charged with entering robotic medtech firm Medrobotics‘ headquarters in an attempt to steal trade secrets, according to court documents from the US District Court for the District of Massachusetts filed this week.
Court documents identify the suspect as 44-year old Dong Liu, who “appears to be a dual citizen of both Canada and China.” Upon arrest, Liu was reported to have current passports from both countries.
According to court documents, Liu entered the US through the Canadian border on Aug. 27th, and proceeded to enter the Medrobotics Raynham, Mass.-based headquarters the next day.
Medrobotics CEO Samuel Straface spotted Liu with 3 laptop computers in a secured company conference room at around 7:30 p.m. on the 28th, according to court documents.
Straface approached Liu to find out his identity and was met with a muffled response, court documents report. Liu later said he was present to meet with the company’s sales director for its European division, who Straface responded had been out of the country for 3 weeks.
Liu claimed he was in the offices to meet with the company’s head of intellectual property, which Straface rebutted was not true, as the IP head had no such meetings scheduled. Liu then named the CEO of the company and stated he had a scheduled meeting with him, which Straface also rebutted as he was the CEO and had no such plans, court documents report.
Straface said he saw Liu begin to power down 2 or 3 of his computers after this exchange, according to court documents.
Later, Liu claimed that he was doing patent work for a Chinese law firm and showed CEO Straface his online law-firm biography, which “stated that he is a senior partner and a patent attorney at Boss & Young Patent and Trademark Law Office in Beijing, China,” according to court documents. Liu’s LinkedIn profile claims he “lead[s] the firm’s Intellectual Property (IP) practice in medical device, bio-tech, clean-tech, and other emerging high-tech areas.”
Straface proceeded to notify the Raynham police, who later arrested Liu after saying that “it appeared odd that Liu was talking to the company’s CEO but didn’t recognize him and had been sitting in a conference room for a long time and had not tried to get anybody’s attention while inside the building,” according to court records.
Upon questioning, Liu said he had entered the building before 5:00 p.m., and had been let into the secured room by a man – though he later changed his story to say that he had been let in by a woman, “whom he could not remember.”
The FBI confiscated a number of electronic equipment, including 2 laptops, 2 smartphones and a number of SIM cards, an ipad, 2 digital camcorders and a wealth of digital storage equipment including flash drives and external hard drives, court documents report.
The Bureau said the equipment “could be used to acquire, store, and/or transmit computer and/or audiovisual data about and belonging to Medrobotics,” according to court documents.
Medrobotics CEO Straface said that “people or companies from mainland China have been trying to develop a business relationship with Medrobotics for about 10 years,” and that he had been approached approximately 6 times. Straface said he normally arranged meetings in Boston and had never met any such individuals at the company’s Raynham headquarters, court documents report.
“Although it is too early to tell whether Liu succeeded in obtaining any trade secrets or other corporate information or whether he installed any malware on Medrobotics’ computer network in order to do so, or whether Liu could even have been successful in doing so, all of the above facts and inferences give probable cause to believe that he took substantial steps to do so and therefore attempted to do so,” an FBI special agent wrote in an affidavit.