BARGAIN OR FAKE? How To Spot Counterfeit IPhones And Other Phony Tech Toys

The post-holiday sale season is upon us. It’s a great time to find bargains on the consumer tech toys you wanted but didn’t get as gifts.

Unfortunately, it’s also a good time to get ripped off.

Low prices could mean a great deal. But they could also mean you’re really buying a fake.

Counterfeiters sell $US700 billion worth of fake products every year, says Craig Crosby, founder and CEO of the Counterfeit Report, a site dedicated to stopping them.

And when it comes to fake electronics, there’s a reason that they’re cheap. They aren’t certified. They don’t use the same materials and won’t perform like the originals. They can even be dangerous.

There are all sorts of counterfeit electronics out there. Fake iPhones are particularly popular, especially the new 5S and 5C models, reports OpSec Security, a company that offers products and services to fight counterfeiting.

This Amazon Kindle USB adaptor looks real. But turn it over ...

That's a counterfeit UL Mark, the symbol for Underwriters Laboratories that tests and verifies the safety of electronics. The real UL symbol is in the corner.

On the bottom of a real Apple USB power adapters, you'll find the phrase, 'Designed by Apple in California.'

On fake Apple USB power adapters, the bottom might say 'Designed in China in California' or have a typo that says 'Abble.' Also, 'Designed' is incorrectly spelled 'Designd.'

This is a fake Travelocity 2 in 1 Car & Wall Charger. But you have to look closely at the symbols on the bottom of the package to see ...

... a counterfeit UL symbol for the U.S. and Canada.

With so many people selling their old iPhones to get a new one, it's easy to get fooled by a bargain that is really a phony.

The best way to spot a fake iPhone is to compare it to the real thing. Fakes will look off in fonts, colours, placement of logos, etc. If the phone is dirt cheap, suspect it.

A fake iPhone 4 could look real. But it isn't as fast and responsive. The boxes look identical to the real boxes, but they tend to all have the same serial number. Real iPhones always have a unique serial number on the box.

Counterfiet iPhone 4 box

At first glance, this Xbox Game Console looks like it's the real deal.

The logo on the fake says 'for X-360' instead of Microsoft. The fonts look different. And the box has a spelling error: A warning on misspells 'Before' as 'Bafore.'

This fake Sony Playstation controller sold for about $US7.80. Other fake ones sell for about $US11. A real Dualshock 3 controller should be priced at about $US49.

The other big tip off? Sony doesn't make an orange one.

A fake Otterbox case probably isn't as dangerous as fake electronics but it still won't protect your smartphone like you think it will. They even have a realistic 'Otterbox' hologram. But ...

... the fake Otterbox simply isn't made as well. One clue is that the fake ones have a mould seam on the side of the case. The Real Otterbox is smooth on the sides.

Counterfeiters will even make phone-specific fakes for Otterbox cases.

... fake Otterboxes come in colours not found in the real ones. Sometimes the logo is hard to see, too. And the price will be insanely lower. These fakes, in fake colours, sell for $US2.50. Real ones cost $US40-$60.

According to SanDisk, one-third of all memory cards on the market are counterfeit. Fake memory cards often do not have the capacity the label says they have. This one is obvious: SanDisk doesn't make a 64MB MicroSD card.

SanDisk DOES make a 32GB card. It looks like this. It also makes several 64GB cards. But the SanDisk logo is in red and some of the bigger capacity cards also use other colours.

A real, brand-new pair of Soul SL300 high-def, noise cancelation headphones sells for at least $US129. This fake headset was priced at $US71. Plus ...

... and, with many fakes, you'll see sloppy stitching, sagging fabric, wrinkles. All are indications of a cheap knock-off and not the real deal.

If you already bought a fake ...

So what can you do if you think you bought a fake? Visit an authorised dealer or contact the manufacturer to try to compare it to a real one, says Crosby.

If it is a fake, report it to the manufacturer or use the reporting tool on the Counterfeit Report web site.

'The manufacturers are very good and very current on counterfeit products. If it was purchased with a credit card or Pay-Pal, notify them immediately that it is a disputed transaction -- the product is a counterfeit. Amazon is quite responsive on counterfeit products, eBay is not,' Crosby says.

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