Beware Counterfeit Memory Cards Being Shipped From Amazon Warehouses

Check out the two memory cards above. One of them is a counterfeit card while the other is a genuine one. Can you tell which is which? If you can’t, we don’t blame you. Japan-based photography enthusiast Damien Douxchamps couldn’t either until he popped the fake card into his camera and began shooting. The card felt a bit sluggish, so he ran some tests on his computer. Turned out the 60MB/s card was actually slower than his old 45MB/s card.

While it’s not unusual to come across counterfeit memory cards — it’s estimated that 1/3 of “SanDisk”-labeled cards are — what’s a bit concerning is how Douxchamps purchased his: he ordered the cards off Amazon — cards that were “fulfilled by Amazon.”

After receiving the four 16GB SanDisk CF cards from Amazon Japan last month and discovering them to be slow fakes, Douxchamps began comparing his phony cards to the real thing. For the most part, the cards and the packaging look virtually identical to genuine products:

However, there are subtle differences that differentiate the cards, including a crudely Photoshopped photo in the box art, missing trademark symbols, differently-shaped sticker seals, difficult-to-open card cases, and completely different serial number formats.

One notable difference on the fake cards is the lack of the legal disclaimer asterisks that we wrote about recently.

“Fulfilled by Amazon” messages on product pages may ensure fast delivery times, but they don’t guarantee that you won’t receive a counterfeit good.

Make sure you give your gear a close inspection after receiving it, especially during this holiday season, since Amazon does a good job of refunding you if a fake product does slip under their nose (Douxchamps was reimbursed “quickly and smoothly”).

Check out Douxchamps’ blog post for photographs illustrating all the discrepancies he found on his fake SanDisk cards. It might help you diagnose your own cards if you suspect them of being different than what their labels say.

Fake Sandisk CF cards [Damien Douxchamps]

P.S. Oh, and in case you’re wondering: the card and packaging in the left photos are the counterfeit ones.

Update: An important distinction: “Fulfilled by Amazon” means that the company is managing and shipping products listed by 3rd-party retailers, while “Ships from and sold by” means Amazon is selling the product itself. Sticking with the latter is a safe bet if you want to avoid counterfeit goods.

Update: After reading this post, a reader named Darrell had an “ah-ha” moment. Upon close inspection, he discovered that his “Class 10″ cards are actually “Class 6″ cards (the front and back say different things):

Thanks for the heads up, Jeffrey!

Image credits: Photographs by Damien Douxchamps

  • Danny Yong

    “Ships from and sold by” and “fulfilled by Amazon.” are two very different things, maybe you should mention that before scaring some folk with smaller minds

  • Michael Zhang

    Good point. Edited a little, and will add a note now, thanks!

  • Stephanie

    Plus, that’s the outline of an SD card, not a CF on the fake box :)
    That might’ve been my first clue.

  • Me

    The fake CF cards…. I once recieved a CF card which also look good by just looking at the “wrap” it came in but the actuall plastic “case” was made very cheap and the one thing that definitly got me thinking was that the labels on the card were the other way round: the main label with “SanDisk Extreme 16GB…” was on the backside of the card were the “address label lines” usually were….

  • fahrertuer

    Buying on Amazon Warehouse can be a real pain.
    Got so far: faked headphones, a faked cellphone battery and a faked battery for my camera.

    The worst part about it? You give your vendor a bad rating because they are selling fakes that don’t work and what does Amazon do? They add a blurb like “shipped by Amazon, it’s our blame and not the sellers” to your rating and invalidate it, when they are not to blame but only the seller

  • Mark

    if you look at the metal parts of the CF card, genuine ones have rounded corners at the pin-end, fakes are squarer. I got duped by a card a couple of years ago and I didn’t realise it was fake until it failed and I contacted sandisk for a replacement… :o(

  • Richard

    The question is, why doesn’t Amazon stop carrying anything that’s been reported as a fake? All Amazon and other online and brick and mortar retailers have to do is stop carrying this stuff as its reported. I’ve not heard that they have, no matter how many review comments they get telling them the stuff is fake.

    They can’t and shouldn’t stop third parties like Adorama from selling Sandisk flash memory up there through marketplace, but they can at least make an attempt to stop counterfeit sellers as they’re reported.

  • John Hill

    I know this may not solve the issue because even good companies can recieve bad products in their shipments, but I buy everything and anything electronic from B&H Photo Video out of New York.

  • fahrertuer

    I always report faked merchandise to the company that is being faked with information where I bought it and some proof (screenshots, photos) of my purchase.
    So far the only company acting on this seems to be Nikon. Just two weeks after I reported I bought a faked battery from a market place seller that shop was down.
    But Amazon… They invalidate negative reviews by posting a blurb like “shipped by Amazon, it’s our blame and not the sellers”

  • Richard

    Good for you. Well done. Most of us don’t take the time to follow up on things like this. I’ve tried with Amazon but their “seller central” group is like a black box of corporate defensiveness. I wish Frontline or someone would expose these kinds of practices (on Amazon and elsewhere) because I do think it’s possible for Amazon to put an end to it by doing better screening of resellers.

  • 3ric15

    “After receiving the four 16MB SanDisk CF cards from Amazon Japan last month” Isn’t it supposed to be 16GB cards not MB?

  • manwithacamera

    When I buy important and expensive things, I usually buy directly from Amazon, not from third parties. These days, I feel it is better to avoid even Amazon for buying camera accessories. Instead, I would like to buy them from BH or Adorama.

  • shashinka

    Hard lesson learned after Amazon sent me a counterfeit X100 battery last year.

  • Bart Willems

    Buying *through* Amazon protects you as much from counterfeit as buying *through* e-bay or craigslist–not at all. There’s a distinct difference with buying *from* Amazon. I can’t believe you guys don’t know the difference.

  • Ralph Hightower

    Buy film instead of SD memory cards.

  • Jack in Weston

    Amazon has absolutely no motivation to carry only legitimate goods. Only a very few customers will notice a fake, and for those who do, the “prompt and efficient refund” seems to make them forget that they where’s sold fake goods which the seller had to have obtained from an illegitimate source. To me, the guarantee of a refund is not a replacement for ethical business practices. I’vea stopped buying from Amazon.

  • lynn

    yea i dont feel sorry for that guy who bought these cards.

  • eraserhead12

    though it’s a lot safer, not all items shipped and sold from amazon are 100% legitimate–I’ve read reviews of people buying stuff like perfume directly from amazon, and receiving fakes.

  • eraserhead12

    plus, no sales tax :D.

  • Peter Dolkens

    After getting stung once on a SanDisk memory stick, I now just take photos of all the cards I receive (front, back, and sides if they’re thick enough) and send them through in a support request to SanDisk.

    They’re always happy to verify if my purchase is genuine, and then if anything does happen, and they’ve verified it as genuine, I can refer back to their earlier correspondence.

  • Damian Brierty

    I noticed that the package on the left has an outline of an SD card but the product is a CF card .The picture o the right has no outline.
    Damian Brierty

  • Steve Thornton

    This problem is on eBay too!

  • John Popp

    The outline of an SD card was on all Sandisk’s packaging at one time, be it a CF or SD card.

  • Matthew Fleisher

    Everything on eBay is fake.

  • Marcel State

    Houston, we have a situation here. i have like 6 SD, and… i don’t really know what to tell. the boxes, looks fakes, the plastics look original, and … i bought them from real shops in here. so, my question to you guys is , how can we tell, how a fake SD, looks like, and how can we obtain an answer, from the producer. Revealing this now, means that the “fakes”, know what they’ve done wrong and corect that.

    So, Sandisk SD cards anyone ?

  • Marcel State

    and what sandisk did ?

  • Katie H

    Amazon’s warehouse is organized by product, not by seller. When items are sent by retailers to Amazon for fulfillment purposes, Amazon notes the inventory quantity and stacks the inventory with that of other retailers. This is the reason why the third-party retailers that you purchased from are not punished in any way, as they are very likely not the ones who sent the counterfeit merchandise to Amazon in the first place.

  • Noah Fence

    unless you live in NY state

  • Darrell Luepnitz

    Thank you for this. I just found that on of my SanDisk cards is fake.

  • esponjorge

    I have just received 1 32 Gig SDHC card from Amazon, it looks like its original, still after reading this I’m worried, maybe one way to make sure it’s original, is if you get a coupon to download RescuePro Delux with a serial code, since I remember all sandisk cards come with it, can some one with a fake card comment about it, and I havent tested but I found a program “H2testw 1.4″ to test speed and capacity.

  • andrey p

    2 years ago I purchased San Disk off Ebay for much less than they use to cost and I asked seller if it was fake and he said no. After cards came in I tested they and trully they has super high speeds. Also called San Disk and they said that if I want to verify if it’s genuine I should send my RAW images to them and they will be able to verify it.

  • TFleahman

    I think I have one of these counterfeit cards.
    I have the 16GB 60mb/s Sandissk Extreme.

    It looks exactly like the photo on the left. But the back looks like the one on the right..

    Other than appearance, has anyone else found another way to determine if your card is a counterfeit?

  • gobo

    Hi, I realise this is 6 months later, but here goes: Feedback is submitted on a massive scale daily. It is meant to give other buyers an idea of the seller but is not intended for reporting matters such as items being counterfeit. If you receive a counterfeit item always get directly in contact with customer services so that they can arrange for the product to be investigated on location.

  • PhotoDr

    I have had 3 REAL Sandisk cards fail, and got a run-a-round rom Sandisk about getting them replace. They never did replace them.
    I wonder if the real test is: if they don’t fail, they are fakes!

  • Michael Bradley

    Amazon is more interested in making money than stopping counterfeits. Just like Republicans. No need for government, we’ll police ourselves, yeah right….

  • Richard

    True enough Michael. Although, they do respond when you tell them about this stuff. Still, it’s tough to do.

  • BrotherBloat

    I just had two lots of 3 cards (order of 3 and then replacement of 3) SOLD by Amazon, all 3 were supposed to be Sandisk Extreme 45mb/s, 32GB. They are in fact 11mb/s fakes! Orderf sold by Amazon uk and shipped by amazon logistics. TWICE.