Services & Software

Beware of counterfeit tablets, warns security vendor

With almost 100 new tablets debuting at CES this week, OpSec Security is warning potential buyers to be on the lookout for fakes being sold on certain Web sites.


Buyers looking for the latest hot tablet should be careful where and how they do their shopping.

As almost 100 new brand-name tablets wend their way through CES this week, OpSec Security is cautioning that a lot of phony tablets are popping up on certain e-commerce sites and business-to-business marketplaces.

In a study released yesterday, the security and brand protection vendor said that such Web sites as Alibaba, DHgate, EC21, Made-in-China, and TradeKey can be home to counterfeiters who sell fake items in bulk or at unrealistically low prices.

Citing specific examples, OpSec Security discovered that listings for Motorola's Xoom numbered around 85,000 per month. One such listing was offering the $399 tablet for $100 with the photo actually displaying icons related to Apple products.

Samsung's Galaxy Tab is another hot commodity for counterfeiters. Certain listings are suspect in that they show photos of a tablet similar in design to the Tab but without the real brand-name markings. The Archos tablet pops up in around 26,000 listings each month, with many of them displaying product images but not the actual tablet with the Archos trademark.

Some listings show photos of real products, while others display clear knock-offs, said OpSec. Counterfeiters sometimes promote a phony item using a brand name to fool buyers into thinking they're getting the real thing.

"Whether it's through clever manipulation of photos on auction sites or simply a 'too good to be true' bargain, many consumers may fall prey to these scammers if not properly educated," Tom Taylor, president of brand protection for OpSec Security, said in a statement. "Given the number of new tablet technologies projected to debut at CES, it's likely we will see an uptick in counterfeit tablets within weeks of the show."

To help tablet buyers steer clear of phony goods, OpSec offered a few pieces of advice:

  • Check whether the price is too good to be true. Phony tablets are sometimes sold for a third or half of the actual retail price.
  • Determine if the image in the photo looks real. Knowing the actual features, size, and colors of a tablet can help buyers more easily spot a fake.
  • Find out if the model is legitimate. Some tablet vendors offer a lineup of devices, each with their own unique model numbers. Counterfeit sellers will sometimes use a fake model number to try to pass off their own goods as the real thing.
  • Check for a warranty. Most vendors provide some type of limited warranty to cover the product. Make sure you're covered by such a warranty if you decide to buy.

A report last November from brand protection company MarkMonitor also found a booming gray market for tablets with more than 23,000 listings for clones and knock-offs.