CNET también está disponible en español.

Ir a español

Don't show this again

Christmas Gift Guide
Tech Industry

Officials make arrests, seize stolen CPUs

Customs officers arrest 17 men and women and seize HK$6 million (U.S. $773,000) worth of re-marked CPUs in separate raids on workshops in Kowloon Bay and Cheung Sha Wan.

HONG KONG--Customs officers arrested 17 men and women and seized HK$6 million (U.S. $773,000) worth of re-marked CPUs (central processing units) in separate raids on workshops in Kowloon Bay and Cheung Sha Wan Wednesday.

Also captured were computer accessories and labels and counterfeit mobile phone batteries.

A total of 3,334 re-marked CPUs and more than 15,000 computer accessories and labels were seized, as well as 760 counterfeit mobile phone batteries from the Cheung Sha Wan workshop.

According to initial inquiries by customs officials, the goods were intended for export to European countries.

Last year customs officers seized HK$52 million (U.S. $6.7 million) worth of counterfeit goods, including clothing and watches, and arrested 760 suspects. Meanwhile, in the first five months of this year, officers have seized HK$32 million (U.S. $4.12 million) worth of counterfeit goods and arrested 340 suspects.

Re-markers essentially take older, slower chips and change the external identifying features, packaging, and some of the circuitry so they can be sold as faster, more expensive processors. A bit of paint, some fake serial numbers, and some cosmetic surgery, and voila--a cheap 300-MHz Pentium II becomes a fairly costly 500-MHz Pentium III.

Re-marked chips are prone to problems, too, and tend to crash because of "overclocking," a process by which counterfeiters boost the core processors and bus speeds on their own. Re-markers often appear to work with the criminal groups that pull strong-arm robberies of chip warehouses, Intel officials have said in the past.

News.com's Michael Kanellos contributed to this report.