Fake memory cards being sold openly


They look like the real thing and are sometimes sold alongside them
By Liew Hanqing
July 21, 2007

AT first glance, these memory sticks look identical. Look closer and you’ll see some subtle differences.

One’s a genuine Sony memory stick and the other’s a counterfeit. The trouble is, more people are falling for the fakes.

Counterfeits of other storage media like secure digital (SD) and compact flash (CF) cards – both often used in digital photography – are also commonly sold.

Engineer George Yap, 29, told The New Paper that he has seen fake memory sticks and cards being sold openly in a popular IT mall here.

‘Sometimes, they sell genuine ones along with fakes,’ he said.

Mr Yap said he became suspicious when he noticed that a 1GB Sony Pro Duo memory stick was selling for just $70 in a shop here.

An original one costs about $150.

A fake 2GB SD card can cost $20 less than the $50 original. A fake 2GB CF card costs about $40, compared to about $76 for an original.

Mr Yap said those unfamiliar with these devices are unlikely to notice the differences.

‘The fake memory sticks generally work fine, although their quality is probably inferior,’ he said.

A spokesman for Sony Electronics Asia-Pacific said it was aware of counterfeit memory sticks being sold in Singapore.

However, it has not seen ‘any noticeable impact on the sales of the genuine products’.

‘We understand that the numbers are minimal,’ he said.

The spokesman added that Sony encourages customers to buy products only from authorised retailers.

The counterfeit problem seems to be worse online, prompting several Netizens to start online forum threads cautioning against these fakes.

One eBay Singapore user, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The New Paper that many fake memory cards have surfaced on online auction sites, like eBay and Yahoo Auctions.

He had posted on a forum thread on the eBay website in response to another user’s complaint about a fake memory card bought on the website.

He has bought a couple of memory sticks online, knowing that they were fake.

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Like Mr Yap, he said the most obvious sign of a fake is the unusually low price. Fake 1GB memory sticks sell for about $40, while 4GB ones sell for about $70.

When he uses the fake memory stick with his PlayStation Portable, he could tell by an on-screen indicator that it is counterfeit.

‘An original memory stick should show the MagicGate (a copy-protection technology by Sony) as ‘supported’, while a fake one would show it as ‘unknown’,’ he said.

He added that to his knowledge, most of the eBay sellers of fake memory sticks are from Singapore.

‘That’s because they’re so widely available in shops here,’ he said.

Users of popular online forums, such as VR-Zone and Hardwarezone, have posted forum threads teaching users how to distinguish fakes from genuine products, complete with pictures.

However, Mr Sam McDonagh, director for marketing and marketplace development at eBay Southeast Asia, said that the auction site has yet to receive any feedback on sellers of fake memory cards and sticks.

There are heavy penalties for those found guilty of selling fake IT products on eBay.

Mr McDonagh said: ‘Those found selling fake IT products will be suspended. We have recently toughened up standards and taken action against those who do not adhere to our rules and guidelines.’

He said that globally, ‘tens of thousands’ of eBay sellers hawking fake IT products have been suspended.

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