Counterfeit parts

Watch out for well-made (counterfeit) chips. Counterfeit parts are big headache. Saelae tells that they noticed first that many more boards than normal were failing the functional test. The USB chip was running hot. It turned out that every last part was an old revision corresponding to a different (obsolete) part number – the parts had been relabeled with a modern part number.

Counterfeit Electronic Parts presentation from NASA gives examples of counterfeit ICs and information on business around counterfeit electronics.


Counterfeit components can be a a big business and safety risk. Criminal Prosecution – Who can be held liable for the sale of counterfeit parts? is an inside look at the unscrupulous business practices that plague the open market and the liability that could accompany this unethical conduct. This article is intended to serve as a warning to sales, purchasing and management representatives involved in the purchase or sale of integrated circuits in the open market. Ignorance is not a defense. It will likely be difficult, if not impossible, for any representative of the open market to argue that they were “unaware” of the risks.


  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    99% of fake Apple chargers fail a basic safety test, new study says

    It should go without saying, but if you buy a spare charger for an Apple device, you should absolutely make sure it’s from a known, reputable company.

    Your latest reminder of this comes from the Chartered Trading Standards Institute, a UK consumer protection organization that teamed up with Illinois-based safety testers UL to examine 400 “counterfeit Apple chargers” from various suppliers.

    According to the study, all but three of the 400 counterfeit chargers failed a “basic” safety test, in which high voltages were applied to the chargers to see if they had enough isolation to protect against electric shocks.

    The study comes just a few weeks after Apple reportedly conducted its own study on third-party power accessories, and found that roughly 90% of Apple chargers and cables sold through Amazon were unsafe.

    Whatever the case, fake chargers are still more common than they should be today.

    Getting chargers and cables directly from Apple is the easiest thing to do. Especially on the cable side, if you don’t want to pay the premium Apple often slaps on, look for accessories with Apple’s MFi (Made for iPhone/iPad/iPod) certification on its packaging.


  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Inside a focusable work light with serious lithium battery “issues”.

    this one came from a local eBay seller’s warehouse in the UK with three 18650 cells. Sadly it turns out they are not 8800mAh cells as marked. Mainly due to “reality”.

  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Matthew Bassiur / Recode:
    Alibaba exec on how company’s Cloud Sword effort used big data for finding and deleting counterfeit listings and helped law enforcement apprehend counterfeiters

    How Alibaba deployed Big Data to combat China IPR pirates and counterfeiters

    The Chinese e-commerce giant describes how its Operation “Cloud Sword” led to the arrest of more than 300 suspected counterfeit gang members in 164 investigations.

    To understand how big a problem counterfeit and pirated goods represent to business, remember the number $461 billion. That’s the dollar amount that the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development estimated for last year’s global trade in fake goods. It’s also right around the level of Sweden’s gross domestic product.

    It’s not just the high total that concerns brands, e-commerce platforms and authorities. It’s that the figure — about 2.5 percent of total global trade — has nearly doubled since 2007. As the world’s leading manufacturing center for authentic products, it is unsurprising that China has also been a source of a large share of counterfeits entering the market.

    Alibaba’s Taobao, the world’s largest e-commerce platform, has millions of honest vendors selling billions upon billions of yuan of authentic goods every year. But there’s also a minority who traffic in counterfeit goods. That’s bad for Alibaba’s customers, reputation and business.

  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Alibaba files first lawsuit over counterfeit goods sold on e-commerce site

    The Chinese e-commerce giant says its has sued two vendors for selling fake Swarovski watches on its Taobao marketplace, marking the first time it is taking legal action against counterfeit sale.

  5. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Hello neighbour, I’ve stolen your product design

    Picture this. You have just set up your exhibition booth at the Electronica 2016 exhibition in Munich only to find the neighbouring booth next to you is exhibiting products with features that are fake copies of your patented product.

    This is precisely what happened to German relay manufacturer Guner AG, a specialist in polarised latching relays for high currents up to 200A. It’s easy to imagine the outrage when it spotted on the neighbouring exhibition booth operated by Chinese company NCR Industrial-Clion Relay Co Ltd plagiarised copies of its relay design. Investigation by Gruner AG CEO Patrick Spreitzer confirmed the infringement of Gruner AG’s patents.

    Because the Gruner AG products are protected by German patent law the company was able to obtain a Cease and Desist order

    Counterfeit electronic products are a worldwide business with huge profits for the perpetrators simply because they can avoid research and development costs and sell at dumping prices.

    According to a recent report by analysts Ernst & Young, about 70% of all counterfeit products are still coming from China. In many cases, they are only spotted at exhibitions when manufacturers see their own product designs on a foreign exhibition booth.

    To some extent the counterfeit problem is encouraged by the fact the global market for relays is booming with an annual growth rate of nearly 8% and a projected value by 2020 $15billion.

    Internationally there is insufficient standardisation controlling the industry. This means production quality control methods can vary from country to country and industry observers are concerned this could hinder the market growth for relays.

    Then of course there is the added problem of counterfeiters. Purchasing engineers who are tempted by the cheaper prices on offer may find themselves and the company they work for buying into huge problems.

    Inadequate product specifications, poor production processes, haphazard product testing at the quality control stage almost certainly guarantees product failure at some point in the field. Admittedly these can vary from minor irritation to worst-case scenarios of causing lethal fires.

  6. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Watch what happens when a counterfeit cable undergoes a burn test

    The Communications Cable and Connectivity Association (CCCA) recently produced a video that includes footage of counterfeit cable being subjected to a burn test, with drastic results. Available on YouTube, the three-minute video begins with a dramatic question: “Communications cable, or fuse?” Much of the rest of the video depicts footage indicating that question is not just hyperbole.

    After referencing the existence of standards from TIA and fire codes from NFPA, the video’s narrator explains, “It’s in everyone’s best interest that if a fire breaks out in a building, communications cables don’t act like a fuse and carry fire all over the building. The sad truth is, there are cable manufacturers that are manufacturing communications cable that does not pass fire and life-safety building codes. However, they are labeling this cable with all the markings you might expect to find on properly constructed cables.”

    “The difference between properly manufactured cables that have been UL tested and certified, versus counterfeit cables utilizing non-compliant cable designs and materials is clear.”

    CCCA Counterfeit Communications Cable Fire Test

  7. Tomi Engdahl says:

    How to distinguish CCA cables from Copper Cables

    How to identify CCA through mechanical performances, how to identify CCA thanks to electrical performance testing (certification)

    Comparing Pure Copper Cat 5e vs CCA Cat 5e

    Testing 108 pixels Pure Stranded Copper Cat 5e compared to using CCA Cat 5e cable. Distance from the power supply to the pixels is 35 feet for each cable.

  8. Tomi Engdahl says:

    That counterfeit cabling you installed is basically a whole-building fuse: The week’s top stories

    Watch what happens when a counterfeit cable undergoes a burn test

    The Communications Cable and Connectivity Association (CCCA) recently produced a video that includes footage of counterfeit cable being subjected to a burn test, with drastic results. Available on YouTube, the three-minute video begins with a dramatic question: “Communications cable, or fuse?” Much of the rest of the video depicts footage indicating that question is not just hyperbole.

    After referencing the existence of standards from TIA and fire codes from NFPA, the video’s narrator explains, “It’s in everyone’s best interest that if a fire breaks out in a building, communications cables don’t act like a fuse and carry fire all over the building. The sad truth is, there are cable manufacturers that are manufacturing communications cable that does not pass fire and life-safety building codes. However, they are labeling this cable with all the markings you might expect to find on properly constructed cables.”

    A cable earns the plenum rating by passing specific flame-spread and smoke-generation requirements in a Steiner Tunnel. In the video, a compliant cable is subjected to the burn test, and the results are documented. Then a counterfeit cable—which claims compliance but does not have

  9. Tomi Engdahl says:

    3D Printing Has an Urgent Need for Cybersecurity

    It’s not just about hackers stealing designs. New research shows that 3D-printed products can be tampered with to create counterfeits and undetectable, devastating flaws.

    In the race to adopt new 3D printing and additive manufacturing (AM) technologies, engineers and manufacturers are overlooking a key element – cybersecurity.

    According to a new paper, “ Manufacturing and Security Challenges in 3D Printing ”, written by researchers at New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering and published in the May 2016 issue of the journal JOM, The Journal of The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society (TMS) , 3D printing carries cybersecurity vulnerabilities that can lead to potentially dangerous, undetectable defects as well as opening the door for counterfeit products.

    “Our emphasis in this paper was to show there could be certain small defects in materials, so small that common detection techniques would miss them, but they compromise the properties of these components,” he said. “Many people have shown [3D printers] can be hacked. As a materials scientist my emphasis was to show these tiny defects can be included that would comprise the integrity of the materials used.”

    Securing 3D Printing

    So what then are the solutions? Gupta said there is the possibility of using and creating new a better materials. However he said, “There are printing techniques that only work with certain materials. At this point AM is limited to using a certain variety of materials, so you have to look at a combination of materials and printing to tackle the problem.”

    What about new detection methods? It’s possible, but it might not be the most cost-effective solution. “ There are these methods that are already in line,” Gupta said. “Testing every product for every possibility of defect is very expensive. You can use something like a CT scan that will give more defects, but it’s more expensive because of time and cost constraints.

    For Gupta everyone along the complex supply chain, from the 3D printer manufacturers themselves to the design engineers that use them, all the way to the manufacturers, are going to have to take some role in addressing these cyber threats.

    The idea is that new security features could be embedded into CAD files or the printed products themselves in order to deter counterfeiting and prevent knock-offs or components that have been maliciously tampered with from being used. “We have designed a set of features you can put into a CAD file that will print the part only under a very specific set of conditions,” Gupta said. “If somebody steals that file then the part they create will be defective. So there will be a very clear point of distinguishing a counterfeit from a genuine product.” He also suggested expanding the same technology into creating ID codes (barcodes or QR codes) that can be printed in the parts. “Those codes can be scanned in very specific conditions and you can find out whether the part is genuine.”

  10. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Endurance Test Machine Is Not Quite Useless

    It seems [Pete Prodoehl] was working on a project that involved counting baseballs as they fell out of a chute, with the counting part being sensed by a long lever microswitch.

    But for [Pete], we guess the microswitch was what floated his boat — likely because it was cheap, easily available and replaceable, and reliable. Well, the reliable part he wasn’t very sure about, so he built a (not quite) Useless Machine that would conduct an endurance test on the specific switch brand and type he was using. But mostly, it seemed like an excuse to do some CAD design, 3D printing, wood work and other hacker stuff.

    The switches he’s testing appear to be cheap knock-off’s of a well known brand. Running them through the torture test on his Useless Machine, he found that the lever got deformed after a while, and would stop missing the actuator arms of his endurance tester completely. In some other samples, he found that the switches would die, electrically, after just a few thousand operations.

    Ideally, these microswitches ought to have been compliant to the IEC 61058 series of standards. When switches encounter real world loads running off utility supply, their electrical endurance is de-rated depending on many factors. The standard defines many different kinds electro-mechanical test parameters such as the speed of actuation, the number of operations per minute and on-off timing.

    A (not quite) Useless Machine

    I started this project with a goal in mind: test microswitches.

    When I was younger, my dad used to have a subscription to Consumer Reports and I remember years ago reading about how they tested things, like using a machine that opened and closed laptops repeatedly to see how many times it could be done before it broke or wore out. One of my goals is to do that sort of thing, but with things we build for exhibits. This is a start.

  11. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Jeffrey Dastin / Reuters:
    Amazon expands counterfeit removal program beyond testing in North America, letting brands register logos and other IP with Amazon

    Amazon to expand counterfeit removal program in overture to sellers Inc (AMZN.O) is expanding a program to remove counterfeit goods from its website this spring as part of a broader push to assure brand owners that the online retailer is an ally rather than a threat.

    As early as next month, any brand can register its logo and intellectual property with Amazon so the e-commerce company can take down listings and potentially seller accounts when counterfeits are flagged, Peter Faricy, vice president of Amazon Marketplace, said in an interview on Monday.

    Counterfeiters have sold faulty or discounted versions of authentic goods on Amazon, prompting lawsuits

  12. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Defeat the Markup: Iphone Built by Cruising Shenzhen

    [Scotty Allen] from Strange Parts, has just concluded a three month journey of what clearly is one of the most interesting Shenzhen market projects we have seen in a while. We have all heard amazing tales, pertaining the versatility of these Chinese markets and the multitude of parts, tools and expertise available at your disposal. But how far can you really go and what’s the most outrageous project can you complete if you so wished? To answer this question, [Scotty] decided to source and assemble his own Iphone 6S, right down to the component level!

    How I Made My Own iPhone – in China!

  13. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The three major counterfeit communications cabling scams

    Previously, this magazine has devoted a significant amount of coverage to the hazards of being fooled into purchasing and, worse, installing counterfeit communications cabling. It’s a topic that always bears some revisiting, because the threat is apparently ongoing.

    The CCCA video’s narrator reminds us, “It’s in everyone’s best interest that if a fire breaks out in a building, communications cables don’t act like a fuse and carry fire all over the building.”

    “How to know if your Cat 5e, Cat 6 or Cat 6A Ethernet cable is counterfeit?”

    “Installing counterfeit cables is a risk that eventually will have an expensive cost and could be considered negligence, fraud and criminal violation of building code regulations,” observes Beyondtech. “In some cases, the contractor could even face imprisonment.” The company goes on to succinctly outline three major scams that counterfeit cabling manufacturers try to foist on unwitting buyers. Quoting the blog directly, these scams are as follows.

    Using steel or aluminum instead of copper: Copper-clad-steel or copper-clad-aluminum is a classic method manufacturers use to save money. It consists of using an aluminum or steel core instead of costly copper, which causes high attenuation and poor signaling. In the long run, network speed will be affected.

    Using re-ground plastic: RJ-45 connectors that don’t pass the quality test at the factory and turn out as rejected can be re-ground back to pellets and added to the plastic used to make new connectors. This process is legitimate, but it can have bad consequences when too much re-ground plastic is used, because it lowers combustion rating.

    Substituting jacket material: Manufacturers replace CMP and CMR flammability ratings with inferior non-fireproof jacket material. Not every application requires these standards, but when they are needed it is critical for cables to have them.

    How to know if your Cat5e, Cat6 or Cat6a Ethernet cable is counterfeit?

    There is a worrying trend in the cable industry that is impairing the final consumer: counterfeit cables.

    Companies are doing this shady deal by selling under brand cables labeled as genuine products, but without the quality controls and even without the appropriate metal inside them. It is a $500 billion problem worldwide.

    Companies are doing this shady deal by selling under brand cables labeled as genuine products, but without the quality controls and even without the appropriate metal inside them. It is a $500 billion problem worldwide.

    Why do they do this?

    Short version? To save money. But the long part is what surprise you:

    We are talking about thousands of dollars. Impairing the consumer, who ends up installing slow networks that don’t hold their specifications for voice, video and data passing.

    Corporations and homeowners are also susceptible to risks because sometimes these cables don’t comply with adequate fire and current rates.

    Fake cables manufacturers make low-quality products, label them with the name of a legitimate company, pack them in a box and sell them at a fraction of the real prizes, making it impossible for legit manufacturers to compete them.

    So, when you see a CATx cable or patch cord with a significantly low cost, don’t trust it.

    So, what are some cables companies doing in order to save costs?

    Using steel or aluminum instead of copper
    Using re-ground plastic
    Substituting jacket material

    Furthermore, fake cables don’t meet with industry’s standards, which sooner or later will cause poor network performance and could even damage active equipment, because they claim to be 24 AWG but are 25 AWG or even 25 AWG instead.

  14. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Fake IC Battle Gets a New Weapon

    Counterfeit components are just about everywhere these days. Some are obvious if you give them a close inspection, but others are nearly impossible to identify. It’s going to get worse as hackers add rogue code into programmable parts such as FPGAs. How will we ever identify that?

    Failure-analysis techniques that let engineers strip down ICs have been around for years, but they require destroying the device. X-ray systems can look inside but generally lack the power and resolution to see details, and they can’t identify the materials implanted in ICs. They only way to get the depth and resolution without destroying the device is with an electron beam generated by a synchrotron.

    Unfortunately, synchrotrons are billion-dollar systems, and they’re so large that you’ll find them only at national labs such as Argonne or Stanford Linear Accelerator. Plus, they can only see a small portion of an IC’s area at one time. Scanning entire devices can take several visits, with the results taking months to acquire. What’s needed is a way to get the results faster and less expensively so that more facilities can identify fake ICs.

    The RAVEN system generates an e-beam and detects emissions from the materials in the IC by identifying each material’s energy signature, letting engineers identify how the IC was manufactured.

  15. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Fake IC Battle Gets a New Weapon

    Counterfeit components are just about everywhere these days. Some are obvious if you give them a close inspection, but others are nearly impossible to identify. It’s going to get worse as hackers add rogue code into programmable parts such as FPGAs. How will we ever identify that?

  16. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Counterfeit Hardware May Lead To Malware and Failure

    Counterfeit parts are becoming increasingly hard to tell the difference from the real deal, the technology used by the counterfeiters has come on leaps and bounds, so even the experts struggle to tell the real product from a good fake. Mere fake branding isn’t the biggest problem with a counterfeit though, as reports, counterfeit parts could contain malware or be downright dangerous.

    Way back in 2014 the FBI charged [Marc Heera] with selling clones of the Hondata S300, a plugin engine module for Honda cars that reads sensors, and depending on their values can change idle speed, air-fuel mixture and a plethora of other car/engine related settings. What, might you ask, is the problem, except they are obviously not genuine parts? According to Honda they had a number of issues such as random limits on engine rpm and occasionally failure to start. While the fake Hondata S300 parts where just poor clones that looked the part, anything connected to an engine control unit brings up huge safety concerns and researchers have shown that through ECU access, they could hijack a car’s steering and brakes.

    Invasion of the Hardware Snatchers: Cloned Electronics Pollute the Market
    Fake hardware could open the door to malicious malware and critical failures

    And unlike counterfeit electronics of the past, modern clones are very sophisticated. Previously, counterfeiters would simply re-mark or repackage old or inferior components and then sell them as if they were new and top of the line; the main problem with these knockoffs was poor reliability. Cloned electronics these days are potentially more nefarious: The counterfeiters make their own components, boards, and systems from scratch and then package them into superficially similar products. The clones may be less reliable than the genuine product, having never undergone rigorous testing. But they may also host unwanted or even malicious software, firmware, or hardware—and the buyer may not know the difference, or even know what to look for.

    Installing cloned hardware into networks, for instance, could open the door to hackers: They could launch man-in-the-middle attacks or secretly alter a secure communication path between two systems in order to bypass security mechanisms, like integrity verification, encryption, and end-point authentication. Software hidden in a router could allow an attacker to take control of other systems on the network, rerouting data to remote servers or even disrupting critical systems, such as the flow of electricity through a smart grid. A cloner who succeeds in embedding malicious software or hardware into a combat drone could shut it down or retarget it when it reached preset GPS coordinates.

  17. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Counterfeit components

    Counterfeit Conflict

    Firstly, lets take a look at this recent patent infringement. Counterfeit electronic products are a worldwide business with huge profits for the perpetrators because they can avoid research and development costs and sell at dumping prices.

    According to a recent report by analysts Ernst & Young, about 70% of all counterfeit products come from Asia. In many cases they are only spotted at exhibitions when manufacturers see their own product designs on a foreign exhibition booth.

    The three injunctions are preliminary measures which Everlight can still contest with judicial remedies.

    Exhibition Ban

    Continued counterfeit activities and patent infringement does raise a question for exhibition organisers like the Messe Muenchen, organisers of the Electronica show. And that raises the question should known counterfeiting companies be allowed to exhibit at such shows? To allow them to do so has to be extremely unfair to honest exhibiting companies and could be questionable from a legal perspective.

  18. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Fake electronics at shows. What do the exhibition organisers say?

    Electroblog recently covered a couple of stories highlighting the menace of counterfeit electronic products and how one of the ways dishonest companies sell them is via industry exhibitions.

    To talk about the exhibition problem I met up with Anke Odouli, exhibition director with the Munich-based exhibition company the Messe Muenchen.

    Now this company organises some of the largest and most important international electronics shows. Two examples are Electronica and Productronica

    last year’s Electronica event in Munich only to find the neighbouring exhibition booth operated by Chinese firm NCR Industrial-Clion Relay was showing plagiarised copies of the Guner relay design. The Munich Country Court confiscated the rogue components but the offending company was allowed to continue exhibiting at the show.

    Anke Odouli explained that at present the Messe Muenchen does not have specific protocols or procedures for dealing with such a situation but said that her organisation does want to combat counterfeit products from entering exhibitions.

    It is only fair to point out that in the Gruner case the Munich Country Court Bailiffs did remove all counterfeit products from the NCR Industrial-Clion Relay exhibition stand.

    So what happens if this counterfeit company applies to exhibit at the 2018 Electronica Exhibition?

    In fairness to exhibition organisers there is one particular problem that does make it very hard for them to stop fake companies re-exhibiting at their shows. Counterfeiting companies very often close down when they run into trouble and then re-launch under a completely different name. This makes it extremely difficult for show organisers to identify them as having shown fake products at a previous show.

    And whereas it would be easy to criticise exhibition organisers for not have stringent controls to prevent counterfeiting companies from showing their products at exhibitions its worth remembering that even Government departments and law enforcement agencies, including the likes of the FBI, do not necessarily hunt down electronics counterfeit products to the same vigorous degree as they do fakes in the fashion, jewelry, film and cosmetics sectors.

    Another aspect in the continuing failure to expose counterfeit electronics manufacturing operations is that a proportion of the blame actually lies with the electronics industry for failing to lobbying law enforcement organisations to anywhere near the same degree as other industries do.

    Anke Odouli concluded by saying she would let me have a statement on what her organisation the Messe Muenchen would be doing about fake exhibitors.

  19. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Let’s Play Spot The Fake MOSFET

    Recently, the voice push to talk circuit in [Ryan]’s BITX40 radio was keyed down for a very long time. Blue smoke was released, a MOSFET was burnt out, and [Ryan] needed a new IRF510 N-channel MOSFET. Not a problem; this is a $1 in quantity one, but shipping from Mouser or Digikey will always kill you if you only buy one part at a time. Instead, [Ryan] found a supplier for five of these MOSFETs for $6 shipped. This was a good deal and a bad move because those new parts were fakes. Now we have an opportunity to play spot the fake MOSFET and learn that it’s all about the supply chain.

    The Quest for the Genuine IRF510

    I scoured the usual places such as and, and found that the part was cheap- about $1 USD for a single IRF510. The only problem is that shipping was almost $10, and I’m a cheapskate. My next stop was Some other hams on the QRP Bitx40v3 40 m radio kit Facebook Group cautioned me to look out for fakes. Various things to look out for were mentioned, and so I tried my best to select a seller that looked reputable and wasn’t the absolute cheapest price. I ended up with 5 IRF510’s shipped from the US (rather than China) for $6, shipping included. Surely this was the best deal. Right?
    What could possibly go wrong?

    I put the BITX40 back to work doing WSPR which transmits at 100% for almost 2 minutes. On a test transmit, the IRF510 got extremely hot, so much so that I burned myself. The power draw slowly crept up past 2 amps, and if I let it go it would draw even more. While experimenting with it, it suddenly drew about 10 amps, and I heard a crackling sound and saw magic smoke rise from the board surrounding the IRF510 PA. Oh no!

    Thankfully only one trace was burned, and it was easy to repair with a bit of wire under the board. I put in a new IRF510 and tried the procedure again. It was also very sensitive to adjustment, and was very quick to overheat. I installed another IRF510 (at least I had a pack of 5, right?) and got the same results.

    What’s interesting is that these chips worked, and if I was just using SSB voice, they probably would have been fine. But my primary mode is digital, where duty cycle is 100% for either 46 seconds or almost 2 minutes solid.

    Friend or Faux?

    The only way to really know if I had counterfeit IRF510’s or not was to compare against known-good chips.

    The Proof is In The Pudding!

    I’m happy to report that the first IRF510 that I tried from the batch directly from Vishay worked beautifully the first time. It tuned right up and it was a breeze to set the bias as previously described.

    How can you avoid getting a counterfeit (fake, relabeled) part? It’s easy: Buy it from a reputable seller. And I don’t mean ebay. Stick with Mouser or Digikey or another retailer that you trust. It’s all about the supply chain.

  20. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Semiconductor Counterfeiting is a Global Problem

    The problem of counterfeit semiconductors extends far beyond the borders of the United States.

    The issue of counterfeit semiconductors in the supply chain extends well beyond the borders of the United States, of course. As we reported earlier this week, quantifying the size and scope of the problem is problematic, even for the semiconductor industry itself.

    During a 2011 hearing before the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), Brian Toohey, then president of the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), testified that experts have estimated that as many as 15 percent of all spare and replacement chips purchased by the Pentagon are counterfeit. He said the SIA estimates that counterfeiting costs U.S.-based chip companies alone more than $7.5 billion per year.

    A 2013 whitepaper by the SIA’s anti-counterfeiting task force explains that the problem of counterfeit semiconductors in the supply chain dates back to at least the 1970s, though awareness of it was limited. However, the problem grew in the 1990s, driven by a number of factors

    As with many counterfeit goods, a disproportionate number of fake chips are traced back to China.

    “The issue of counterfeiting is a global problem,”

    There are standards in place to ensure the authenticity and functionality of semiconductors. But once chips head out of the manufacturers’ authorized supply channels and hit the open market, anything goes—and there isn’t a mechanism for ensuring that the devices are authentic and function properly. During a 2011 hearing by the Senate Armed Services Committee, committee chair Carl Levin described how one set of suspected counterfeit parts passed through six different brokers in three countries before they were assembled into a system, according to the SIA whitepaper. With components changing hands so frequently, most people are not even aware when they have counterfeit chips in their stockpiles.

    The SIA and all chip vendors recommend that chip buyers purchase semiconductors directly from them or through their authorized distribution channels. Beyond that, there are companies like SiliconExpert, which maintains a database of over 1 billion components and can enable engineers to reliability source and validate component data.

  21. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Fake Chips on Amazon Are Nothing New

    The “news” that counterfeit semiconductors have been sold on Amazon comes as no surprise to industry insiders.

    Last week, a number of stories that made the rounds on the Internet warned of counterfeit AMD Ryzen 7 processors showing up for sale on Amazon.

    All of these stories seem to trace back to the experience of one would be Ryzen 7 buyer who received instead an Intel Celeron processor that was disguised as a Ryzen by a sticker affixed to the top of it.

    As counterfeit semiconductor schemes go, this one doesn’t appear to be particularly sophisticated or extraordinary, though it did take some imagination. The forums speculate that someone who bought a Ryzen 7 on Amazon returned it, sending back the fake in the apparently unopened original packaging.

    Amazon sells a lot of products, and it’s no surprise that not all of them end up being authentic. Counterfeits of all shapes and sizes end up being sold on Amazon, from underwear to sporting equipment to cookware and everything in between. It’s not that easy for a layperson or even someone with some seasoning to differentiate what chip from another, especially if it is returned in what seems to be an unopened box.

    Amazon did not respond to request for comment, but the company has an anti-counterfeiting policy

    Of course, everyone who works in or follows the semiconductor industry knows that the problem is far more widespread and serious than a one-off computer builder or hobbyist being duped. Fake chips continuously find their way into the supply chain and end up being ticketed for use in everything from vacuum cleaners to medical equipment to nuclear submarines, posing serious risks to health and safety.

    The problem is significant enough that the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) maintains an anti-counterfeiting task force

    There have been large-scale seizures of counterfeit semiconductors by customs and border patrol agents and some high-profile prosecutions of counterfeiters in several jurisdictions. But the suspicion is that the vast majority of counterfeit or intentionally mis-marked semiconductors slip through the cracks and the perpetrators go unpunished.

    It’s difficult, in fact, to get a handle on the exact size of the problem or prevalence of counterfeit chips. “It’s really hard to quantify [what counterfeit semiconductors cost the electronics industry],”

    A 2013 whitepaper written by the SIA’s anti-counterfeiting task force cites a 2012 report by IHS iSuppli (now IHS Markit) that found that the five most prevalent types of semiconductor reported as counterfeit represent $169 billion in potential risk per year for the global electronics supply chain.

  22. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Blockchain Fortifies Supply Chain

    Thanks in part to increasing globalization, supply chain for consumer and industrial goods alike has over time become convoluted and opaque. Enter the concept of blockchain.

    BADEN-WÜRTTEMBERG, GERMANY — Where was it made? By whom? Amid densely wooded mountains and valleys, these are perennial questions asked by tourists to Germany’s Black Forest region, dotted with medieval castles, half-timbered houses, and stone-bridge villages. Home to global manufacturing champions such as Carl Zeiss AG and Robert Bosch GmbH, the region is also birthplace to countless Mittelstand firms famed for their world-class products from wristwatches to furniture to beer. As such, Baden-Württemberg is at once contributor and ambassador to the proud label “Made in Germany” and all the gravitas that comes with.

    Baden-Württemberg’s tourists are not alone in their search of authenticity and provenance. Thanks in part to increasing globalization, supply chain for consumer and industrial goods alike has over time become convoluted and opaque. Indeed semiconductor counterfeiting has long been a serious concern to design engineers, supply chain professionals, and the semiconductor industry itself. Just last week, AspenCore’s EE Times and EE Times Asia covered the most recent incident of counterfeit AMD Ryzen 7 processors listed for sale on Amazon here and here. Moral of the story: buy only from official franchisees, and partner with your distributor to regularly audit your supply chain.

    And yet at AspenCore we are surprised for all its benefits and “here now” application in the financial services sector, blockchain technology seems to have garnered disproportionately little public attention in semiconductor circles. A simple protocol that allows transactions to be simultaneously anonymous and secure by maintaining a tamper-proof distributed ledger of value, blockchain has been dubbed The Trust Protocol by advocates and has been re-shaping money as we know it.

  23. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Alibaba: We’re no haven for pirates – we’ll yank fake goods from our web bazaars within 24 hours
    China’s Amazon steps up efforts after stinging criticism

    Alibaba says it has taken significant steps to speed up how it cracks down on counterfeit goods sold on its online marketplaces.

    China’s Amazon reckons its freshly overhauled intellectual property protection website can strip knockoff gear from its web souks within 24 hours of legit complaints from registered rights holders. This move comes after the company was criticized for, essentially, being a haven for bootleggers.

  24. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Fake Ram: Identifying a Counterfeit Chip

    [Robert Baruch‏] had something strange on his hands. He had carefully decapped 74LS189 16×4 static RAM, only to find that it wasn’t a RAM at all. The silicon die inside the plastic package even had analog elements, which is not what one would expect to find in an SRAM. But what was it? A quick tweet brought in the cavalry, in the form of chip analysis expert [Ken Shirriff].

    [Ken] immediately realized the part [Robert] had uncovered wasn’t a 74 series chip at all. The power and ground pins were in the wrong places. Even the transistors were small CMOS devices, where a 74 series part would use larger bipolar transistors.

    Examining a vintage RAM chip, I find a counterfeit with an entirely different die inside

    The die photo above is part of Project 54/74, an ambitious project to take die photos of every chip in the popular 7400 series of TTL chips (and the military-grade 5400 versions). The 74LS189 was an early RAM chip (1976) that held just 64 bits: sixteen 4-bit words.

    The 74LS189 was an improved version of the 3101 RAM chip, so the two die photos should have been very similar. But the two photos were entirely different and the 74LS189 die didn’t have 64 of anything. This just didn’t make sense.

    A closer examination of the chip brought more confusion.

    Most 7400-series chips have the power and ground on diagonally-opposite corners of the chip.1 The die photo, however, shows the power and ground separated by just 5 positions. This immediately rules out the possibility that the chip is the advertised 74LS189, and makes it unlikely to be a 7400-series chip at all. In addition, the transistors all looked wrong. A chip in the 74LSxx series is built from bipolar transistors, which are fairly large and have a distinctive appearance. The transistors in the die photo looked like much smaller and simpler CMOS transistors.

    The chip also contained a complex resistor network, not the simple resistors you’d expect on a TTL chip. The resistor network (along with the large, complex transistors next to it) led me to suspect that this chip had analog circuitry as well as digital logic.

    A quick web search found a Touch-Tone chip datasheet. The pinout of this chip matched the die photo with the power, input and output pins in the right places. The datasheet said the chip was metal-gate CMOS (not TTL), which matched the appearance of the die. Finally, the datasheet’s block diagram matched the functional blocks I could see on the chip.


    The chip turned out to be a Touch-Tone DTMF dialer, most likely a knockoff MK5089, repackaged as a 74LS189 RAM chip. Why would someone go to the effort of creating counterfeit memory chips that couldn’t possibly work? The 74LS189 is a fairly obscure part, so I wouldn’t have expected counterfeiting it to be worth the effort. The chips sell for about a dollar on eBay, so there’s not a huge profit opportunity. However, IC counterfeiting is a widespread problem14. For instance, 15% of replacement semiconductors purchased by the Pentagon are estimated to be counterfeit. With counterfeiting this widespread, even an obscure chip like the 74LS189 can be a target.

    As for Robert Baruch’s purchase of the chip, he contacted the eBay seller who gave him a refund. The seller explained that the chip must have been damaged in shipping! (Clearly you should pack your chips carefully so they don’t turn into something else entirely.)

  25. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Can Blockchain Technology Stop Whisky Counterfeiting?

    Unless you’re either a) working in or around the industry or b) a passionate fan, I’ll bet counterfeit whisky is not an issue you’ve paid much attention to – assuming you’ve even heard about it.

    Guess what? It’s becoming a serious problem with potentially deadly implications. An enormous fake whisky operation based in London specializing in creating phony “rare” releases was discovered earlier this year.

    Worse still, counterfeit Jack Daniels in Russia actually ended up killing more than 30 people – with the final number not known.

    A number of efforts are underway to combat the problem. In early summer, alcohol giant Diageo unveiled a small machine that can scan a bottle to verify its authenticity. QR codes on bottles to confirm authenticity have also been tried in other beverage industries where counterfeiting is an issue.

    This move towards transparency about whisky provenance and counterfeit operations is a significant change from the past.

    Blockchain was pioneered with the bitcoin crypto-currency. It allows purchases to be publicly traceable and is now being incorporated across many sectors.

    Owned by premier independent whisky bottler Adelphi, the distillery will print scannable QR codes on its upcoming Ardnamurchan AD 2017 release. The code will carry both in-depth information about the whisky’s supply chain – where the barley was sourced, dates of production, and other information highly valued by geeks like me – and also provide a digital certificate of authenticity confirming the whisky’s claims.

    Adelphi hopes eventually to roll out this high tech feature across all their bottles.

    This campaign represents a partnership with Edinburgh- and Belfast-based Arc-Net, a company specializing in authenticating supply chain information for consumers. Though Adelphi isn’t the first distillery to provide product information with scannable QR codes, it’s a first adopter of blockchain technology.

    Regardless, the introduction of blockchain could potentially be a game changer as both industry and consumer win. We can get more information about our whisky than we ever have before, and we don’t have to worry about it killing us, either.

  26. Tomi Engdahl says:


    Authentication solution for improved security and reduced system costs

    Counterfeit products can seriously compromise the end-user experience and may harm investments made by system manufacturers and Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM). Therefore, it is becoming more and more important for manufacturers to safe-guard the value of their brands and their investments into product technology.

    OPTIGA™ Trust B is a robust cryptographic solution for embedded systems requiring easy-to-integrate, reliable authentication features.

    Summary of Features:

    Strong cost efficient asymmetric cryptography with ECC 131-bit key length
    OPTIGA™ Digital Certificate (ODC) with device personalization (unique key pair per chip)
    Turnkey solution including host-side software for easy integration
    512 bit user NVM
    Easy-to-implement single-wire host interface
    Size-optimized TSNP-6-9 package (1.1 x 1.5 mm)

    Target Applications:

    Battery authentication
    IoT edge devices
    Consumer accessories
    IP & PCB design protection
    Original replacement parts
    Medical & diagnostic equipment

  27. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Is That Part A Counterfeit? Here Are A Few Pointers

    If you order an electronic component, how do you know what it is you are receiving? It has the right package and markings, but have you got the real thing from the original manufacturer or have you got an inferior counterfeit? We hear so much about counterfeit parts, and sometimes the level of effort put in by the fraudsters is so high that from either a visual or electrical standpoint they can be hard to spot.

    [Robb Hammond] writes for Aeri, with an extremely interesting guide to some of the cues for spotting a counterfeit semiconductor part. In doing so he gives us something of an insight into the techniques used by the fraudsters.

    The first feature of a package to be examined are the indents. Relabeled chips often have their old markings sanded off and a coating applied to simulate the surface of an unmolested chip, and this coating can either obliterate or partially fill any indentations. Using comparison photos we are shown discernable hidden indents, and partially filled indents.

    Counterfeit Electronic Component Detection

    We will start with the most simple necessary tools to detect counterfeit integrated circuits. You will need all of the standard tools for handling electrostatic sensitive parts. For the detection of counterfeit parts you will also need a microscope with at least 30X magnification. It is also important that you have a camera built into your microscope. Some of the processes of counterfeit electronics detection require you to send copies of photos to different resources for their evaluation. In addition to a microscope you will need a solvent to check for part marking permanence. Acetone is a common chemical to determine if the part has been remarked, but a less harsh solvent is a combination of 3 parts mineral spirits and one part alcohol. This is the mixture that MIL-STD-883 (method 2015.13) requires part markings to withstand.

    To begin avoiding counterfeit electronic components we start with a visual inspection of all of the packaging. Some of the signs to look for are:

    Misspellings on the manufacturers labels
    Verification that the date code on the label match dates codes on the parts
    Date codes that are not possible. ex. 0657
    Date codes that are in the future
    If parts are moisture sensitive they require a dry pack and a Humidity indicator card. Often the counterfeiters forget some piece of the moisture sensitive parts requirements. Part specific requirements can usually be found on the datasheet.

    The counterfeiters have a very difficult time keeping the indents clean and consistent during their refinishing process.

    The indents are always clean and uniform from the manufacturer.

    The counterfeiters are slowly figuring out that we are catching their mistakes. We have started to see an attempt to visually add an indent so all of the parts look uniform.

    Most parts, which are large enough to write a country of origin, display where it was manufactured somewhere on the part. It is commonly placed in the indents, but it can be written anywhere on the part.

    Plastic Electronic Components are typically made with a mix of fine glass and plastic. The surface of the molded package is textured when it is removed from the mold. The pin cavities are often very smooth


    All of the manufactures, which we have spoken to, state that they have high quality standards which preclude them from major imperfections. The part numbers are to be in a certain location on the part and they are not to be crooked, misspelled, or out of alignment. The logos are also monitored very closely and should not vary from part to part. In addition, the markings are to withstand tough environments and still be legible.

    Manufacturers state that the markings should be in a proper area of the part.

    One thing to note about Maxim, in particular, is that they have not marked their parts with paint since at least before 2002. They only etch their parts.

  28. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Worldwide, there are 7.5 billion counterfeit chips, according to Hsu.

    One backdoor vulnerability in CPUs is predictive execution, where some outcome is predicted and execution proceeds along the predicted path until the actual result is known.

    “If everything is encrypted by the chip, even with predictive execution, the stored data is encrypted and more difficult to hack,” Hsu says.


  29. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Amazon’s Jeff Bezos Called Out On Counterfeit Products Problem

    Here’s the scenario. A small company designs and creates a product and puts it up on Amazon. Things go well. People really like it. They post hundreds of positive reviews. Sales build — and keep building. Everything is going great. And then, boom, things go south in a hurry. Another company has created a counterfeit version of the product and is selling it under the same name only it’s selling it for less, stealing all the sales.

    Amazon’s Jeff Bezos called out on counterfeit products problem

    The founder of Elevation Lab rips into Amazon for allowing its popular under-desk headphone mount, The Anchor, to get overwhelmed by lower-priced counterfeits.

    The Anchor, Elevation’s popular under-desk headphone mount, has been getting flooded with counterfeits, Hopkins said, noting the situation certainly isn’t unique to his company.

    “The current counterfeit seller, Suiningdonghanjiaju Co Ltd (yeah they sound legit), has been on there for the past 5 days and taken all the sales,” Hopkins wrote. Adding further insult to injury, he said Elevation has paid Amazon a “boatload of money” to advertise the product that it has “built, invested in, and shipped.”

    According to Hopkins, the product Suiningdonghanjiaju is selling is a poor facsimile

    Hopkins told CNET that counterfeiters have been purged at least five times in recent weeks only to return a week later under a different seller name “to hijack the listing.” He said it takes Amazon 5 days to remove the seller.

    “It’s like whack-a-mole,” Hopkins told CNET.

    Since Elevation doesn’t sell its products wholesale (except to Apple), he said it should be obvious to Amazon that any third-party seller with significant quantities is selling counterfeits. “Amazon’s policies let sellers hide behind the anonymity of the platform and they know there will be zero recourse,” he added.

    Amazon has previously recognized it has a counterfeiter problem and has taken steps to quash it. It has sued counterfeit sellers and recently created a Brand Registry for companies to list their logos and intellectual property.

    Hopkins said Amazon could do something very simple to fight counterfeiters, but it isn’t.

    “If you have a registered brand in the Brand Registry and don’t sell the product wholesale, there could be one box to check for that,” Hopkins wrote. “And anyone else would have to get approval or high vetting to sell the product, especially if they are sending large quantities to FBA [Fulfillment by Amazon]. I imagine there are some algorithmic solutions that could catch most of it too. And it wouldn’t hurt to increase the size of the Brand Registry team so they can do their work faster.”

    In a letter to shareholders last year Bezos wrote: “Day 2 is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it is always Day 1.”

  30. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Car ozone generator showdown. (mostly fake)

    So the results were basically 70% fakes and 30% real.

    A look inside a REAL car ozone generator plug.

  31. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Testing more 18650 Li-ion cells (REAL vs. FAKE)

    Today I tested even more of 3.7V 18650 Li-ion batteries from Ebay and explained how to tell the real ones from the fake ones. 18650 Li-ion cells that weigh under 40g tend to have a low capacity. The cells marked over 3500mAh are surely fake and actually are about 500mAh only. Cells with spelling errors also tend to be fake. Button top batteries are way more likely to be fake than the flat top ones. Suspiciously cheap cells are usually fake or recycled from e-waste (rewrapped cells salvaged from old laptops or other devices).

  32. Tomi Engdahl says:

    That New Memory Smell: Tech Can Tell if Your Flash is New or Recycled

    Flash is designed to last a decade or more of use. A lot of the gadgets that rely on it are not. Shady recyclers have spotted opportunity in that mismatch, stripping out used chips and selling them as new. But engineers at the University of Alabama have come up with a straightforward electronic examination that can tell if a flash chip is new or recycled, even if that chip has only seen 5 percent or less of its life. And the technique is so straightforward that a smartphone app could run it on its own memory.

    “Most of the time, recycled memory is thrown into the market when it is functional,”

  33. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Warning, don’t get confused between the CE Mark and the China Export Mark

    In recent years we’ve all got used to the fact that if a product bears the CE mark, that it is safe. The reason for this assumption is that goods with CE marking demonstrate that they meet relevant and strict EU standards. This marking brings benefit to all in the supply chain and most notably, the consumer.

    Unfortunately, there exists a very similar mark which the majority of consumers and even sellers may see as the CE mark of the European Union but actually is something completely different. This “CE” mark means “China Export” and only means that the product was manufactured in China!! It is believed by various organizations that this similarity is not a chance coincidence and that this expresses an aggressive approach to sell into the European market without the right standards.

    For the Reseller
    You have a legal responsibility to ensure that the goods you sell are legally marked. If you are a supplier/importer in the UK, the penalty for the supply of non-compliant products is imprisonment and/or a fine.

    For the Consumer
    If you are trying to identify if your goods are CE marked you should check either the product, manual or ask your supplier for documentation. If the logo cannot be found or your supplier can’t supply you a CE certificate then your goods are not compliant and you should return to your supplier for a refund.

  34. Tomi Engdahl says:

    CE marking and the Chinese Export logo

    At the CE Marking Association we receive a lot questions from manufacturers and importers trying to learn more about the CE mark and one question that regularly crops up is about the Chinese Export mark, so we thought we would share our opinion on the matter.

    The CE Marking Association has held the view for a long time that the China Export mark is not valid mark and it is actually just the European CE mark that does not respect the dimensions and proportions given within the Directives.

    So our advise to manufacturers and importers to be wary of the use of the China Export mark and be sure that, where it is required, the product or machine is compliant to the relevant CE Marking Directives.

  35. Tomi Engdahl says:

    That New Memory Smell: Tech Can Tell if Your Flash is New or Recycled
    Counterfeit flash memory is a growing problem; engineers in Alabama can tell used from new in

  36. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Fake Omron relays with smoky issues.

    I bought a few of these very common Omron clone relays from various sellers on eBay to check out. The 12V units seem OK, but the 240V ones have a very silly issue that is so common with this type of cloned product. Grossly overloaded components. And in this case a completely unnecessary one. Keep in mind that while some of these relays may be fine for personal projects or prototyping, I don’t recommend their use in professional equipment for liability reasons.

  37. Tomi Engdahl says:


    After a friend had a close call with a counterfeit solid state relay, I decided to tear down a known counterfeit and a known legit SSR to compare them. I also gloss over the differences between SSRs and mechanical relays.

    Fake Fotek SSR-25DA FAIL

    I will use the Fotek SSR-25DA to control my heatbed, unfortunatly I got some fake ones. To find out if they were useable for my purposes I did some testing on these.

  38. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Teardown of an eBay 25A Solid State Relay. (SSR)

    A solid state relay is an industrial component used for interfacing low voltage control signals to high current mains voltage loads. They sell them on eBay at a ridiculously low price, so it’s time to see what’s actually inside one of these eBay units.

    25A Solid State Relay. (SSR modification 30amp to 50amp )

  39. Tomi Engdahl says:

    25A Solid State Relay. (SSR modification installed )

    wow the unit i didn’t mod died instantly when i powered up. looks like thay use counterfeit fet’s

    Why Solid State Relays Fail

    Chronic melting of SSRs points to long cycle time of PID temperature controller time proportion output

  40. Tomi Engdahl says:

    5 Examples of Dangerous Counterfeit Products


    From big-name brands frequently advertised in media to opioid pills containing excessive amounts of fentanyl, counterfeit pharmaceuticals pose a clear threat to consumer health.

    Food & Beverages

    Last year, an INTERPOL-Europol coordinated initiative yielded the largest-ever seizure of fake food ingredients.


    Counterfeit electronics are now a ubiquitous problem, infiltrating once-trusted e-commerce sites.

    Consumer electronics are the second most pirated item in the United States, trailing behind only clothes. If these electronics had been sold, it would have comprised of 10% of the estimated value of all fake goods!

    Smaller counterfeit products like hair dryers can also be deadly with poorly configured circuitry that can shock people.

    A more recent trend includes counterfeit smartphone batteries.

    Auto Parts

    At best, counterfeit auto parts will under-perform. At worst, a cheaper knockoff product can malfunction severely and create havoc on the highway.

    Counterfeit auto parts are a rapidly growing problem in the states, involving things that are essential to the safe functioning of a care like tires, airbags, brake pads, spark plugs, water pumps, oil, fuel filters and more.

    Hygiene & Cosmetics

    These are chemically based goods that, when imitated, may use dangerous ingredients. For example, counterfeit Colgate toothpaste was discovered in 2007. Included in the knockoff ingredients was diethylene glycol – also known as antifreeze, a toxic replacement for fluoride.

  41. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Flash Memory: Caveat Emptor

    We all love new tech. Some of us love getting the bleeding edge, barely-on-the-market devices and some enjoy getting tech thirty years after the fact to revel in nostalgia. The similarity is that we assume we know what we’re buying and only the latter category expects used parts. But, what if the prior category is getting used parts in a new case? The University of Alabama in Huntsville has a tool for protecting us from unscrupulous manufacturers installing old flash memory.

    That New Memory Smell: Tech Can Tell if Your Flash is New or Recycled

    Counterfeit flash memory is a growing problem; engineers in Alabama can tell used from new in seconds

  42. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Industrial timer knock-off. (Actually quite well made.)

    Another cheap Chinese industrial component from eBay. This one does run relatively cool, although it is a 12V unit. The circuitry does actually follow the manufacturers data sheet quite closely.

  43. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Fake Omron relays with smoky issues.

    I bought a few of these very common Omron clone relays from various sellers on eBay to check out. The 12V units seem OK, but the 240V ones have a very silly issue that is so common with this type of cloned product. Grossly overloaded components. And in this case a completely unnecessary one.
    Keep in mind that while some of these relays may be fine for personal projects or prototyping, I don’t recommend their use in professional equipment for liability reasons.

  44. Tomi Engdahl says:

    ECIA Warns Industry to Look Out for Counterfeit Parts

    The Electronic Components Industry Association (ECIA) has issued a warning from its Chief Counsel, Robin Gray, on the increasing threat of counterfeit parts getting into the supply chain during component shortages. ECIA encourages the electronics industry to continue to rely on the authorized channel for components, and to report any counterfeit component activity to the Department of Justice.

    Long lead times and allocation conditions in the electronics supply chain are expected to continue throughout most of 2018, say industry executives.

    ECIA is concerned that these conditions will force customers to consider alternative and unauthorized sources for these critical components in order to meet their own production commitments. This is understandable, but increases the risk to the industry and the consumer that counterfeit components will get into the supply chain.

    “The threat to United States interests from IP theft has evolved. The increasing perpetration of illegal and damaging acts of IP theft not only costs the U.S. economy tens of billions of dollars per year, but it also deprives individuals of their livelihoods, and poses a public safety and health threat. Counterfeit goods traditionally were limited to luxury goods such as handbags and watches. However, with the advent of new technologies, combined with the high profits and perceived low risk from selling infringing goods, counterfeits have become increasingly more sophisticated and prevalent. Products in every industry”

    “The widespread availability of the internet has contributed to the increasing threat, enabling manufacturers to sell counterfeit products to customers around the world, and helping criminals to breach or avoid legitimate supply chains for products.”

    With the Justice Department’s increased awareness of the problem comes increased enforcement efforts.

    The charges of wire fraud and trafficking in counterfeit military goods each carry a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.


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