Beware: Fakes Ahead!

If the price of that new Nokia phone you are staring at is too good to be true, it would be better to put your urges on hold. For all you know, it might be a fake, or made using fake components. Experts have even said that the fake components may even pose a health risk if they are of low quality. In November, a fifty year old man sentenced to nine months in jail for selling fake Nintendo game consoles and high-end Nokia handsets, shedding some light on Singapore's high-tech counterfeit scene.

According to some court documents, Mister Tan Kim Chia kept a workshop in his Rochor Centre store stocked with thousands of spare parts for Nokia and Nintendo products. The spare parts, which ranged from batteries to circuit boards allowed his malevolent technician to put together phones that Mister Tan would sell as originals. Counterfeiters now buy old or faulty parts and cannibalise the working parts, slap on a new cover and voila! A "new" product is made and is ready to be sold.

While there are no estimates of how common such counterfeiters are in Singapore, police raided 20 stores last year. In China, the counterfeiting industry is even more shocking. AT Shenzhen's famed Shanzai tech marketplace last year, some visitors said that there were dozens of booths selling batteries and at each one, there would be a girl with raw lithium-ion batteries and Nokia stickers beside her, literally building fake batteries before their eyes.

Many may think that the parts used by counterfeiters are all bogus. Sometimes, the Sony digital camera parts and computer chips may come from US technology giants such as Intel and Broadcom. Even more shockingly, manuals for making such handsets were sold at Shanzai! You may ask, so what if the materials used are fakes? If they are still functional, wouldn't it be much cheaper to just buy the fake version? Actually, the non-originals will possess more bugs and might hang the device. Also, the fake batteries may leak if the internal temperatures are too high, causing hazardous materials to spill out, posing a huge danger. The batteries can also spoil when the capacity is wrong and are overcharged.

You may think that these problems can all be avoided if choose to buy the genuine version of the product. However, this is easier said than done. The difference between the genuine and the fakes are very small- they come with the manuals and the packaging, and counterfeiters sell their products at a lower or discounted price, luring us like a moth to a light bulb. To make matters worse, the counterfeiters have changed the large discounts to smaller ones, making it even more difficult to identify the fakes.

Luckily, the counterfeiting industry is not very big- it is more like a cottage industry where only 100 units are made in a day at most. Those found to be making counterfeits could be fined by up to S$100,000 and jailed for up to 5 years.

A warning to readers- or the sake of your health and money, do not buy fakes! It will be more worth it to spend that little bit more money to get a better quality product!


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Hi guys, I'm a student in Singapore, and this are some thoughts and essays I have written over the years.