As the case of reseller Newegg demonstrates, typos are usually the most visible sign that a chip--or any product purported to be supplied by a reputable company--is fake.
"Initial information we received from our supplier, IPEX, stated that they had mistakenly shipped us 'demo units.' We have since come to discover the CPUs were counterfeit and are terminating our relationship with this supplier," Newegg said in a statement.
"We have already sent out a number of replacement units and are doing everything in our power to resolve the matter promptly and with the least amount of inconvenience to our customers," the reseller said. The number of counterfeit chips is estimated at several hundred.
Intel said Monday it has been made aware of "the potential for counterfeit i7 920 packages in the marketplace" and is working to determine "how many and/or where they are being sold."
The packaging and wording on the boxes containing the counterfeit chips sold by Newegg was the most immediately apparent indication that something was askew, according to a post dated Thursday in a Overclockers.com forum. Photos show typo-laden wording on the box. For example: "This box contains an Intel processor ans [sic] a thermal solution designed for use ina [sic] Desktop PC."
Opening the box revealed fake components and documentation with blank pages, according to photos on the Overclockers' forum.
The forum posting noted the "shoddy text" as a tip-off that the product was bogus.