Counterfeit PC hardware market growing

By Justin Mann on January 9, 2006, 3:23 PM
Is counterfeit hardware on the rise? Last week, an article in PC Magazine discussed just this. Apparently there has been an increase in the amount of counterfeit hardware making its way into retail outlets, some of them ignorant of the fact that they're pushing bad stuff. An example noted were counterfeit batteries being found from online retailers in a name-branded phone, though the retailer doesn't claim responsibility. U.S. Customs claims that the amount of hi-tech fakes seized more than doubled from 2004 to 2005. Though that could mean that just more is being found, it could also be somewhat of a resurgence of the massive duping we saw in the late 90s.

”In many cases the counterfeiters don't make the phony hardware themselves. Instead, they take a legitimate but inexpensive hard drive or memory module from an undistinguished maker, slap on the label of a better-known firm, and charge a premium rate. Woody Taylor, who uncovers counterfeits for Seagate, says hard drives made by little-known companies and rebranded as Seagate models make up the bulk of the hundreds of phony Seagate drives he sees each year.”
Sounds quite like it. More often than not, you could find a rebadged P2 or a rebadged Athlon in a normally reputable computer store years ago, and most recently you could find quite often “name brand” components with generic innards, such as with thumb drives or network devices. This kind of fraud hurts pretty much everyone from the top down, because often even the consumer can't get the fake replaced. Be cautious of where you shop, especially so online.

User Comments: 15

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sngx1275 said:
I've seen on a couple forums recently where people have bought a USB flash drive, and had it not be the size they thought they bought. No I'm not talking about the forum posts here where suddenly someones 512 stick is now only showing x Megs.
Eleventeen said:
Ah, people always have to find a way to get that extra money, legal or not. I personally think this is getting really annoying, let alone it hurting everyone who buys a hardware piece that isn't what it's labeled to be. If people really have to stoop to that low of a level, to know in their head that they are ripping of the consumer for a considerable amount of money, well, it's just disgusting. Hopefully people can catch these "criminals" or whatever you want to call them. Sadly I dont see this happening in the future.
DragonMaster said:
Will they have to put holograms, etc. on every pieces of hardware?What about an unique encrypted S/N in the HDD's firmware? You download the software from the company's website and it check in a database to check if your S/N is legit. But, there is no perfect way.[Edited by DragonMaster on 2006-01-09 16:01:55]
Cartz said:
It truly is a buyer beware situation, in the original article, they found the biggest culprit was cell phone batteries. I suppose it's since they are easier to forge then say, a hard drive.Unfortunately Eleventeen, as long as there is someone who is willing to look a little harder for a lower price there will be someone willing to cut some corners to provide it at that price. The internet just provides them with a very convienient (and very obscuring) veil to hide behind.On the bright side, some of the companies exposed in this investigation could now be facing legal repercussions. At least this article did something to stem the flow of counterfeits other then just making people aware of it.
exscind said:
This reminds of me an article recently about how a Chinese online store was selling Intel Celerons. The store included a software that will rewrite the BIOS information (I believe) so it says a Pentium 4, etc. etc. It was said that the software may (unconfirmed) even fool CPU-Z and other programs like that. What the store suggests, indirectly, is that you can basically buy a cheap Celeron and sell it on places like eBAY as a solid Pentium 4. The site claims that it is not false-advertising because it is telling the customers straight up the CPU is a Celeron. But what the end-user (customer) decides to do with the CPU and the software cannot be controlled by the store and therefore cannot be responsible.That's the kind of tricks that hurts everyone, especially the consumers as a whole. I seriously hope acts like above and the counterfeiting PC hardware article will be put to a stop.
PanicX said:
wesome counterfeit iPod story[/url]
asphix said:
Ouch, this sounds scary. I normally buy OEM products to save some cash at the expense of extras I don't need. I'll have to be careful with any purchases I make in the future. Thanks for bringing this to my attention!It's kind of sad that people would do this. It does help to stress a lesson I learned a long time ago. Always buy from a reputable dealer, and if a deal looks too good to be true, it most usually is. Ok, two lessons.. but they sort of go hand in hand :)
fury said:
Sad, yes; surprising? noPeople have been trying to make profit with ill-gotten goods, relabeled piles of crap, and other kinds of fraud since long before the tech industry boom. It's certainly nothing new but the recent increase just goes to show you that it must still be working, otherwise nobody would be doing it.Even smart consumers can sometimes get the butt end of the deal. The only way for this to stop is for some sort of authoritative figure (DOJ perhaps) to start putting penalties on businesses that are using these kinds of practices. It's probably already illegal anyway.
DragonMaster said:
Just to make things even more sad : Even if your hardware is not counterfait, maybe the components on it are. Counterfeit semiconductors and capacitors is pretty common.
otmakus said:
There's no way to eliminate the chance of getting counterfeit hardwares. We can only minimize it by checking the serial number int the manufacturer's website (u can do that with Seagate's hard drives), buying from a registered distributor, etc.In Indonesia, where I live, counterfeits are so common that stores openly sell products based on their quality: Original, refurbished original, fakes quality 1, quality 2, and so on.
iluvnug said:
I'll try and be more prepared for things like this. I really had no idea it had reached this scale.
Vaerilis said:
I don't consider this problem to be a very serious issue at the moment.As long as you don't buy an MP3 player on the local flea market or buy a laptop (which "fell off a truck") at an unreasonably cheap price from a friend of a friend, your odds of getting counterfeit hardware are very low. Buy at legit online and offline shops and from dealers you know you can trust and you will be safe.I've only heard about two major cases of mass-counterfeiting in 2005: the famous fake "Verbatim 8X DVD+R" discs, which were actually some sort of relabeled, repacked no-name discs and the massive amount of fake Samsung DDR (IIRC, PC3200 or PC2700) memory flooding some parts of Eastern Europe.
mentaljedi said:
I;m not worried. I just makes sure i buy from established places like Amazon or PC world or something like that.
Cy6erpuke said:
This touches on a very important issue. If you go around just shopping for price, you can never expect to get the best. I took part of my pension money last year and went BIG. It is a good idea to overspend where you spend most of your time. Fakes will always be around, but only in the shallow end of the pool.
Comatoss said:
How about counterfeit memory cards?From sony memory sticks to sandisk SD cards...see this for an example:[url][/url]Like others have stated, counterfeits are becoming a breeding ground on places like Ebay.. which is quite unfortunate.
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