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:

    Your Components are probably FAKE! Soooo is that BAD?

    In this video we will be having a closer look at electrical components because there is definitely a possibility that your components are fake/counterfeit. So I will show you why fake components exist, what their problems are and how you can spot them/test them. Let’s get started!

    0:00 Fake Components?
    1:23 Intro
    2:00 How Fake Components come to be
    3:11 MOSFET Fake Testing
    6:12 OpAmp Fake Testing
    8:50 Verdict

  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Your Components are probably FAKE! Soooo is that BAD?

    0:00 Fake Components?
    1:23 Intro
    2:00 How Fake Components come to be
    3:11 MOSFET Fake Testing
    6:12 OpAmp Fake Testing
    8:50 Verdict

  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    How to spot counterfeit electronic components

    Counterfeits electronic components are Electronic components that are misleading as to the origin or
    quality relating to the parts. It is possible to counterfeit a certain electronic component and potentially
    infringe one’s trademark license rights.
    Counterfeit parts often have inferior specifications and quality. They may be a hazard in a critical
    system such as an aircraft navigation and life support equipment or space vehicle. The sale in
    consumer markets of electronic components making it easier for counterfeiters to integrate inferior
    and counterfeit goods into the market.
    The Global Chip Shortage has affected our lives more than you think, and it’s not solely due to low
    supply. One of the main reasons is very high demand. The demand for electronic products that use
    microchips like computers, smartphones, tablets, and even vehicles has skyrocketed in recent

  4. Tomi Engdahl says:


  5. Tomi Engdahl says:

    FBI antoi varoituksen vaarallisista akuista – tarkkaile näitä merkkejä

  6. Tomi Engdahl says:

    How to spot counterfeit electronic components

    Counterfeits electronic components are Electronic components that are misleading as to the origin or
    quality relating to the parts. It is possible to counterfeit a certain electronic component and potentially
    infringe one’s trademark license rights.
    Counterfeit parts often have inferior specifications and quality. They may be a hazard in a critical
    system such as an aircraft navigation and life support equipment or space vehicle. The sale in
    consumer markets of electronic components making it easier for counterfeiters to integrate inferior
    and counterfeit goods into the market.

  7. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Perhaps It’s Time To Talk About All Those Fakes And Clones

    We all like cheap instruments, whether they are a logic analyser, an SDR, a spectrum analyser, or whatever. Sometimes the cheap products are based upon open source projects, such as the NanoVNA vector network analyser we looked at a while back, but it’s important to be aware that just as often they are clones of commercial products that have had a huge research and development applied to create them.

    There may be some open-source enthusiasts who would respond that all such things should be open source hardware anyway, and that the devices have been somehow “set free” by the cloners.

  8. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Anatomy Of A Fake CO2 Sensor

    The pandemic brought with it a need to maintain adequate ventilation in enclosed spaces, and thus, there’s been considerable interest in inexpensive C02 monitors. Unfortunately, there are unscrupulous actors out there that have seen this as a chance to make a quick profit.

    Recently [bigclivedotcom] got one such low-cost CO2 sensor on his bench for a teardown, and confirms that it’s a fake. But in doing so he reveals a fascinating story of design decisions good and bad, from something which could almost have been a useful product.

    Fake CO2 monitor (party detector) with schematic

    The self latching power button circuit is very neat. It’s the electronic equivalent of a standard motor starter with latching contactor contact.

    The most useful bit of this video is the science of tin oxide sensors. What I showed is little more than a crude oversight to quite a complex scientific subject. The exact composition of the metal oxide layer is what determines the gasses detected, and there are usually other vapours and gases that will be detected alongside the desired one. But the payoff is the simplicity and ruggedness of the sensor. As you can see in the video, the resistance change is dramatic for even a whiff of gas or vapour.

    Further examination of the display does show that it’s a fixed use monochromatic display with coloured panels printed over the circular segments. That’s a shame, as it would otherwise have been an excellent base for a custom display unit.

    The use of a random cheap sensor to give the illusion of being real by genuinely reacting to environmental changes is amusing. I’ve a horrible feeling they may also pull this stunt on detectors that actually matter, like gas leak or carbon monoxide detectors.

  9. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Test for Real Germanium Diode or Fake Schottky imports from China

    This is a limited, but good first test to see if the “Germanium” diodes you bought online are real Germanium, and not fake silicon Schottky diodes.
    Test: Germanium diodes have reverse leakage currents.
    Schottky diodes have little to no leakage at small voltages.
    Important for guitar pedals, radio, etc.

    NOTE: A 9v battery works the same, and shows more reverse leakage, in case your meter is not super sensitive in the micro-amp (μA) range. (Thx KJ6EAD). For the record, this meter was $29 at Harbor Freight. Not super accurate or robust, but it was sensitive enough for this demonstration.

  10. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Some Fake Chinese Semiconductors

    The Chinese sellers fake really every kind of semiconductor:
    Germanium diodes, small-signal FETs, radio-ICs, schottky-diodes…

  11. Tomi Engdahl says:

    GuitarPCB Germanium Diode Tutorial – Real or Not?

    This is a general tutorial to aid with questions and concerns of purchasing Germanium Diodes online. Again there are a lot of opinions and facts available on the internet and I suggest doing your own research however there is a simple “heat test” you can do to help determine what you have. Lastly remember NOS Germanium diodes are getting hard to find and there really is no such thing as cheap Germanium. I will be carrying tested NOS 1980′s Diodes in my PCB Shop soon and I already have Ranegemaster, Fuzz Face and Tonebender Germanium transistor sets available.

    1N34A or NOT 1N34A ???

    Short video about problems with mislabeled components.

  12. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Here’s something I wrote for someone else. Thought I would also share it here:

    “Authorized” electronics distributors such as Digi-Key, Mouser, Newark, Arrow, etc. are members of the Electronic Components Industry Association (ECIA – The ECIA establishes strict guidelines for component purchasing, inspection, handling, and traceability. While distributors who are members of ECIA are generally regarded as “trusted sources,” there’s no guarantee a part purchased from them is genuine, because (I’m pretty sure) an independent audit is not required.
    If you’re purchasing parts, at the very least they should be an ECIA member. For even better assurance, the distributor should maintain a Counterfeit Control Plan and be certified to the Counterfeit Avoidance Accreditation Program (CAAP – The latter will prove their counterfeit controls have been verified by an external auditing company to validate they are compliant to Aerospace Standard AS6496. Both Digi-Key and Mouser are certified to CAAP. I am not sure about other ECIA distributors, but am guessing many are not CAAP certified. I am also not sure if other “well known” distributors such as Newark and Arrow are certified.

  13. Tomi Engdahl says:

    ChongX Capacitor test – Aliexpress JUNK – Buyer Beware!

    I picked up some cheap Chinese capacitors on and decided to test their quality

  14. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Transistor Tear Down and Compare – Counterfeit Parts Exposed!!!

  15. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Fake transistor and how to test transistor’s

  16. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Quick Poll: Are counterfeit electronics a problem for you?
    Sept. 14, 2023
    Bogus electronic components are the bane of any OEM. How is it affecting you?|7211D2691390C9R&oly_enc_id=7211D2691390C9R

  17. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Quick Chat: 5 Red Flags for Spotting Counterfeits
    Sept. 13, 2023
    Here are five ways to spot a fake in your electronics supply chain.|7211D2691390C9R&oly_enc_id=7211D2691390C9R

    Last year, nearly $3 trillion worth of counterfeit goods traded hands—up from $30 billion in the 1980s. This makes counterfeiting at least the tenth largest economy—just above Canada’s total GDP and possibly the fourth largest above Germany, according to Forbes. Responsible for 2.5 million lost jobs globally, counterfeiting has a disproportionately high impact on businesses and consumers in the U.S., where shoppers tend to purchase the highest share of counterfeit goods at around 60% to 80% of all goods sold.

    Electronics counterfeiting is especially nefarious, and in some cases downright dangerous. For example, a fake part or component increases failures of systems related to performance, safety and lifecycle. “Counterfeit parts are often of poor quality and may function differently than intended. When they work differently than intended, there’s lost productivity, as counterfeit parts can lead to equipment failure,” MacroFab points out. “Failure often increases user safety risks, lawsuits, fines and brand damage.”

    5 Ways to Spot a Fake
    Identifying and avoiding counterfeit electronic parts and components isn’t always easy, but there are some steps that procurement professionals can take to help keep fakes out of their companies’ supply chains. Here are five red flags that electronics buyers and other professionals should watch out for when researching, selecting and ordering products:

    1. An unknown supplier, manufacturer or marketplace that’s eager to do business with you. The internet is a hotbed for product sellers, not all of which are authorized, reliable or reputable. “The market, especially online, can be a daunting place where we may not always know who to trust,” IPKey cautions. “So buying from a reputable supplier can to some extent protect us from fake products.” Similarly, watch out for unusually low prices or a deal that looks like it’s too good to be true; it probably is.

    2. Product pictures that don’t match their descriptions, specs or reviews. Products may be counterfeit when the pictures initially shown by the seller look different from the customer photos or other photos of the product.

    3. Unusual shipping and packaging information. Counterfeit products, particularly those involved in drop shipping schemes, typically take much longer to ship than reputable retailers, MSU points out. “They may also advertise shipping in “discreet packaging” or large products in multiple parts.

    4. The parts don’t pass the “visual” test. When visually inspecting a part for legitimacy, use a reliable microscope for a detailed view. Look for inconsistencies across the lot, such as incomplete or improper logos, incorrect manufacturing plant codes, any additional or extra markings, dull component leads, material variants and even packaging discrepancies. “[These] simple steps can work to ensure your components are legitimate,” American Computer Development states.

    5. And they don’t pass the X-ray test. According to Broadline Components, the component examination is one of the most specific methods of detecting counterfeit electronic components. The inspection involves the use of a regular X-ray to view the internal parts of the product. It helps you identify anomalies such as:

    Inconsistent thickness and rough edges: As a way of eliminating the original code, the counterfeit electronic components manufacturers try to sand parts, which result in thinner parts and rough edges.
    Lack of uniformity on the indenting: To make part replacement easy, OEMs leave clear indents on the component. “In counterfeit electronic components, you may note that the indents look shallow and rough,” Broadline points out.
    Inconsistency in pins distance: The distance between the pins may be tampered with in fake components. “You may also note that the pins have oxidation or look a little too shiny,” the company adds.

  18. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Fake External M.2 NVMe SSD Has MicroSD Cards Inside
    By Mark Tyson published 5 days ago
    The cheap 512 GB drive also had an ‘ancient’ controller and a slow interface.

  19. Tomi Engdahl says:

    New Freeware Detects Fake USB Drives with Inflated Capacity

    New Freeware Detects Fake USB Drives with Inflated Capacity
    By Mark Tyson published 1 day ago

    Steve Gibson developed Windows freeware app also scans for read/write errors.

    Veteran US software engineer and security researcher Steve Gibson has announced a new drive tool from Gibson Research Corporation (GRC). The underlying purpose of ValiDrive v1.0 is to “spot-check any USB mass storage drive for fraudulently missing storage,” which has become ever more important given the influx of fake drives flooding online retailers. This freeware tool also checks any USB-connected drive for read / write errors.

    In case it isn’t clear from your own experience of buying discount USB drives why it will be useful, Gibson reveals that he bought 12 drives from Amazon in the last month, and ValiDrive proved that “every single one of them was a bogus fraudulent drive.”

    Gibson’s Amazon shopping splurge was prompted by testers of SpinRite v6.1 (GRC’s premier mass storage maintenance and data recovery system) being perturbed at the “diabolical” proliferation of fake USB drives on the market. These fraudulent drives don’t offer the capacities advertised and will routinely lose data to maintain their deceit.

    ValiDrive certainly sounds like quite a thorough testing tool. Where Windows and lesser sys-info tools are happy to go along with and misreport fraudulently described drive capacities, ValiDrive is claimed to put the storage through a “576-region spot-check to test the readability, writability, and true storage presence of any [USB connected] drive.”

    ValiDrive 1.0 is a pleasingly compact and portable app, as we have grown to expect from GRC, weighing in at just 95KB. Some may criticize the Windows 3.1 aesthetics, but others will find it no-frills and functional, or even retro-cute. In addition to Gibson’s dirty dozen Amazon drive testing, respondents to the developer’s Twitter post seem pretty happy with ValiDrive so far. Several tested drives which users suspected to be fraudulent were found to be so. Meanwhile, others testing big brand drives from reputable sellers have reported success in capacity verification.

    We have recently reported on fake SSDs and fake high-performance external SSDs packed with microSD cards.

    ValiDrive 1.0 is available to download now and is freeware.

    The drive maps above are typical of the fraudulent drives which are flooding the market. This shows a drive sold as two terabytes (2TB) which actually only contains 62 gigabytes (62GB) of flash storage.

    Why is this a serious problem?
    At first this might seem like a minor annoyance: You purchase a 1 or 2 terabyte drive at a bargain price and you receive a 64GB drive instead. But that’s NOT what happens here!

    The drive appears to be the 1 or 2 terabyte drive you purchased. You plug it into your computer and everything looks fine. You can even copy files to the drive; as many as you want. And when you look at the drive’s contents the files are there. But what’s insidious is that the files’ contents may have never been stored.

  20. Tomi Engdahl says:

    f3 – Fight Flash Fraud

    f3 is a simple tool that tests flash cards capacity and performance to see if they live up to claimed specifications. It fills the device with pseudorandom data and then checks if it returns the same on reading.

  21. Tomi Engdahl says:

    first fakes are described here few years ago, nowadays there are multiple different types of fakes…

  22. Tomi says:

    Jopa 80 % tietokoneista sisältää väärennettyjä osia

    Jokaisen käyttäjän henkilökohtainen tietokone on jatkuvasti virusten ja erilaisten haittaohjelmien hyökkäysten kohteena, mutta voi olla, että suurempi vaara sisältyy tietokoneen rautaan. Uuden tutkimuksen mukaan jopa 80 prosenttia tietokoneista pitää sisällään väärennettyjä komponentteja.

    Tutkimuksen on teettänyt datanhallintajärjestelmiä kehittävä Geonode. Väärennetyt komponentit muodostavat käyttäjille ison uhkan, sillä niissä saattaa olla esiladattuja haittaohjelmia, joka voi uhata paitsi käyttäjän dataa, myös koko järjestelmää.

    Väärennetyt laitteistot ovat kriittinen uhka yksilöiden ja yritysten kyberturvallisuudelle. Aidolta näyttävät osat voivat sisältää piilotettuja haittaohjelmia, jotka voivat varastaa tietoja, vahingoittaa järjestelmiä tai sallia luvattoman pääsyn verkkoihin.

  23. Tomi Engdahl says:

    FAA Investigating How Counterfeit Titanium Got Into Boeing and Airbus Jets
    from the metal-health dept.
    “Titanium that was distributed with fake documentation has been found in commercial Boeing and Airbus jets,” reports CNN. America’s Federal Aviation Administration is now investigating whether those components pose a safety hazard to the public,” along with the manufacturers of the aircraft and supplier Spirit AeroSystems.

    “A parts supplier found small holes in the material from corrosion,” the New York Times reported Friday:
    Boeing and Airbus both said their tests of affected materials so far had shown no signs of problems.

  24. Tomi Engdahl says:

    FAKE vs Genuine Power Semiconductors: Which One Performs Better?

    00:00 Overview
    01:14 Comparing Genuine and Fake Power Semiconductors
    02:44 Visiting Keysight to Use Test Equipment
    04:43 Curve Tracer Test
    06:18 Double Pulse Test
    08:26 Curve Tracer Test Result
    12:58 Double Pulse Test Result
    14:54 Disassembling Genuine and Fake Power Semiconductors
    15:26 Self-made DC/DC Converter
    16:59 Using Power Semiconductors in Converter’s Power Stage
    19:15 Efficiency Measurement Result
    21:04 Analyzing Test Results
    22:44 Conclusion
    23:58 All Test Results

  25. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Keskiyön insinööripornot ja vastaus kysymykseen mitä eroa väärennetyllä transistorilla on teoriassa ja käytännössä, miten sellanen testataan ja onhan tuossa muutama hemmetin hieno mittalaitekkin esiteltynä.

    FAKE vs Genuine Power Semiconductors: Which One Performs Better?

  26. Tomi Engdahl says:

    There’s a new GeForce RTX 4090 scam: repair shops finds relabeled RTX 3080 Ti GPU inside
    Northwestrepair posts a new video, new scam detected: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 scam sees relabeled GeForce RTX 3080 Ti GPU inside, oh boy.

    Anthony Garreffa

    Published Jul 5, 2024 11:45 PM CDT
    Updated Jul 6, 2024 12:45 AM CDT
    1 minute & 39 seconds read time
    Sigh… there’s another graphics card scam going around, this time with the flagship NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 which was found with a relabeled RTX 3080 Ti GPU inside. Check it out:

    Northwestrepair revealed the scam in a new video, with what should’ve been a brand new ASUS TUF Gaming GeForce RTX 4090 graphics card, with the protective foil on it and all, but it was all a sc am. Once the TUF Gaming RTX 4090 was pulled apart, the GPU was labeled “AD102″ but it was not the AD102 GPU, it was the GA102 GPU which powers the GeForce RTX 3080 Ti.

    The real RTX 4090 (left) with the fake RTX 4090 (right) (source: Northwestrepair)

    The two GPUs are nearly the same size: 628mm2 versus 608mm2, so it wasn’t obvious at first, but it seems someone has polished the die to remove the label, and then laser-etched brand new ones… quite elaborate. Northwestrepair also noticed that at least one of the memory modules was not 2GB, but 256MB… and they weren’t GDDR6X memory at all.

    The scammers used the GA102 GPU because the chip is pin-compatible with AD102, which is the same GPU used by the GeForce RTX 3090 Ti, which was really just a test run for the new flagship GeForce RTX 4090.

    Read more: RTX 4090s are still melting: GPU repairer is fixing 200 faulty RTX 4090s per month
    Read more: 19 damaged GeForce RTX 4090s with cracked PCIe slots fixed by professional repairer
    Read more: Beware: scammers are selling RTX 4090 cards without GPUs, counterfeit RTX 4090s on the loose
    This isn’t the first huge graphics card-related scam, and I’m sure it’s not the last… I’m just glad we’ve got the likes of Northwestrepair exposing this crap.

    ASUS TUF Gaming GeForce RTX™ 4090 OG OC Edition Gaming (ASUS TUF Gaming GeForce RTX™ 4090)
    Today 30 days ago
    * Prices last scanned on 7/12/2024 at 7:12 pm CDT – prices may not be accurate, click links above for the latest price. We may earn an affiliate commission.

    Anthony Garreffa

    Anthony joined the TweakTown team in 2010 and has since reviewed 100s of graphics cards. Anthony is a long time PC enthusiast with a passion of hate for games built around consoles. FPS gaming since the pre-Quake days, where you were insulted if you used a mouse to aim, he has been addicted to gaming and hardware ever since. Working in IT retail for 10 years gave him great experience with custom-built PCs. His addiction to GPU tech is unwavering and has recently taken a keen interest in artificial intelligence (AI) hardware.

    What’s in Anthony’s PC?
    CPU: Intel Core i5-12600K
    RAM: Corsair 32GB DDR4-3200
    GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 24GB
    SSD: Sabrent 4TB Rocket 4 Plus
    OS: Windows 11 Pro
    CASE: Lian Li O11 Dynamic XL
    PSU: ASUS ROG Strix 850W
    KEYBOARD: Logitech G915 Wireless
    MOUSE: Logitech G502X Wireless
    MONITOR: LG C3 48-inch OLED TV 4K 120Hz
    Newsletter Subscription

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  27. Tomi Engdahl says:

    I bought super cheap DC-DC converter on Amazon, but It was FAKE.


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