PSA: Fake SanDisk memory cards are everywhere, including Amazon

May 11, 2018

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

PSA: Fake SanDisk memory cards are everywhere, including Amazon

May 11, 2018

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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It seems the fakes are out in force again at the moment. I’ve seen a number of posts across Facebook and other social media where people have ordered SanDisk and other SD cards only to receive counterfeit cards. These days, we need to be vigilant with memory cards.

Memory cards are made to varying degrees of quality, and these forgeries are often whatever’s cheapest. There’s no quality control, because there’s no backlash on them. The last thing you want in the middle of an important shoot is to lose all your work. Or, worse, your client’s work.

So, this PSA is prompted by a post I saw on Facebook the other day. DIYP has permission to show you the post and images here, but they’ve asked that we remove their name.

As noted in the post, the card was ordered by a friend. And what he received was definitely not a genuine card. You can see above that the font and sd card symbols are obviously different from the original card, as well as the general spacing. Also, the little * is missing next to “95MB/s” for the little “Doesn’t really go as high as 95MB/sec in both directions” disclaimer. The locking tab is also a different colour, and he says that on the reverse side the pins are misaligned and the usual serial number and markings are missing.

Fake SanDisk (and other manufacturers) cards have been around so long that eBay even has a page to help you identify whether you’ve bought a fake card. There are also apps available to display the card’s information to see if it really is genuine, too.

A lot of the time, you don’t know you’re going to receive a fake card until it actually arrives. These listings will typically use the card manufacturer’s own product photos for their listings. But once it arrives, it often becomes fairly obvious if you’ve got another card to compare to.

It appears most likely that the card in the unnamed Facebooker’s post above was bought from a 3rd party seller. And 3rd party sellers are the reason I no longer go to Amazon as my first choice for anything. I’ve never experienced a 3rd party seller on Amazon that didn’t try to rip me off over something.

Even Amazon themselves aren’t immune to the occasional screw-up, though, as one person found out when the Canon 1DX Mark II he ordered turned out to be rocks. Twice. But if the order is fulfilled by Amazon and they send you a fake card, they will put it right.

3rd party sellers typically won’t. And it’s not Amazon’s job to check the boxes sent out by every 3rd party seller on their platform. No reasonable person could expect Amazon to even be able to do this. But, if Amazon receives enough complaints about a seller they’ll shut them down. Of course, there’s really nothing to stop them starting over again with a new name.

As far as eBay, they say there’s not much they can do about policing fake items for sale on the site unless the trademark holder (that would be the manufacturer) files the report themselves. So if, as a buyer, we receive a card that’s fake, all we can do is dispute our transaction. To actually get the listing taken down to prevent others being duped would require the manufacturer’s help – which is why fakes are still so rife.

So, some tips.

  • Buy from authorised SanDisk (or whatever manufacturer you prefer) resellers and reputable retailers
  • If you do buy from Amazon, make sure it’s sent by Amazon and not a 3rd party seller
  • Avoid eBay, it’s often as bad as Amazon 3rd parties
  • Keep a copy of all communications between yourself and the seller, just in case
  • Pay with a service or transaction method that gives you a good fraud policy (like PayPal)

SanDisk isn’t the only memory card company for which fakes exist. There are many articles up on the web about Kingston, Samsung, and others as well as generic advice.  And memory cards aren’t the only fake photographic products out there, either, as BlackRapid recently pointed out.

So be careful from where you buy. Go with a real and reputable store like B&H, not some random generic 3rd party Amazon or eBay seller. And make sure to give any new cards a good going over once you receive them before you trust them on a real shoot. Especially if there’s a client’s money or non-repeatable day on the line.

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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18 responses to “PSA: Fake SanDisk memory cards are everywhere, including Amazon”

  1. Keith Heinrich Avatar
    Keith Heinrich

    A thing best bought over the counter.

    1. Jyi Offer Avatar
      Jyi Offer

      Even then, it depends where the stock came from ?

    2. Chris Avatar
      Chris

      I have seen plenty of fake cards at Walmart, Target and even camera stores. The best is to make sure you know how to identify fake cards and avoid them.

      1. Nintendork Avatar
        Nintendork

        They really made a business on SD because how small and easy to fake they are. It’s not only about testing the write speed, you need to be sure they’re not altering the capacity in which the only way is to use an app to write files and detect overwritten data.

  2. Owen Avatar
    Owen

    I always perform a speed check from free downloadable software.
    I found Sandisk cards ordered from Sandisk(Amazon) were far below the given specs, which indicated they were fake.

    Last year PCWorld were doing a 2for 1 deal on the 32gb extreme Pro, so grabed 2 packs of those.

    Always test the write speed, it’s the only way to be sure!!!

    1. jason bourne Avatar
      jason bourne

      What software are you using to test?

      1. Owen Avatar
        Owen

        SpeedOut

  3. Motti Bembaron Avatar
    Motti Bembaron

    I almost always buy on Amazon where Amazon is the sender. The times that I buy from third party it’s usually cheap and not important items like exterior led lights for $9.99.

  4. Andrew Avatar
    Andrew

    Amazon has developed a big problem, which they haven’t tried to correct yet. In their warehouses, they merge manufacturer products with products from 3rd party sellers (in China, largely). If you buy a branded product, from Amazon specifically, they pull them all from the same bin. So you might get a genuine product, or you might not, no matter what source you selected, even if it is “fulfilled by Amazon.” This is why certain brands (Birkenstock, for example), refuse to sell their product on Amazon anymore. Apple found a similar problem with “Apple” brand chargers and cables on Amazon.

    1. Chris Avatar
      Chris

      “Fulfilled by Amazon” and “Shipped and Sold by Amazon” are completely different, the first one is third party sellers, the second one is strictly Amazon’s stock and your chances of fake goods is almost 0. There is always a slim chance, but it is very low.

  5. Doug Sundseth Avatar
    Doug Sundseth

    I’ve bought many things from third-party sellers through Amazon. But then for any such purchase I look at the seller ratings and feedback before spending the money. (It’s perhaps worth noting that among those “third-party sellers” are companies like B&H.) I do exactly the same thing when buying through EBay.

    Further, when I have had a problem ordering through Amazon (rare), I’ve had only one situation where the problem wasn’t resolved almost immediately. And that one problem was a $7 purchase that wasn’t worth the hassle to follow up other than to write a negative comment with details.

    All of which is to say that I think the claims made here are vastly overblown. I make no guarantees that you’ll have the same results, but my sample size isn’t tiny. (And EBay has been less reliable as a seller mediator than Amazon for me.)

  6. EDVISIONS Avatar
    EDVISIONS

    times square camera shops are full of these lol

  7. Brian brownlee Avatar
    Brian brownlee

    I ordered a Hoya Pro1 CPL earlier this year from amazon. Opened the box, the packaging was for the correct filter but inside that packaging was a cheap, non-Pro1 UV filter… it came from amazon warehouse. Luckily Amazons return policy is great, I got the correct filter in my second try.

  8. Chris Avatar
    Chris

    Just for the record, PayPal has terrible fraud protection policies, they basically will do NOTHING to help you.

    1. srh1965 Avatar
      srh1965

      Yesterday I ordered a 128GB microSD card from eBay, paying via PayPal. I received an email from eBay later the same day telling me it was fake, they had delisted the seller and requesting me to start a claim. I did so and my PayPal payment was almost instantly refunded. So – what do you mean?

    2. Breezie Avatar
      Breezie

      I have had nothing but provision from both Ebay and paypal. They are our defenders! All you need to say is your product “wasnt as described” & even if the seller has that they dont accept returns/offer refunds, they will HAVE TO because they sold a bunk product. That’s a fact. I return bunk crap every time & ebay ALWAYS backs me.

      1. Russ Danrik Gardiner Avatar
        Russ Danrik Gardiner

        I had a software vendor charge me for an annual subscription renewal, despite the subscription having been cancelled almost a full year prior, paypal told me I should have cancelled it and refused to help. Didn’t care that I cancelled the subscribtion from their own platform, and it was all done months in advance (i could see a glitch if it was the day before or something).

        It was over like $15. So eff that, I’m not using paypal anymore if they can’t even back me up over an obvious one like that that’s such a low value.