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Buyers are Falling Prey to Scammers Selling Fake Graphic Cards Stripped of Key Components

Fraudsters are purportedly selling non-functional units of these GPUs online, leaving unsuspecting customers with stripped-down, unusable hardware.
PUBLISHED MAY 2, 2024
Cover Image Source: Non-functional GPUs are being sold in online marketplaces (representative image) | Unsplash | Photo by Lucas Kepner
Cover Image Source: Non-functional GPUs are being sold in online marketplaces (representative image) | Unsplash | Photo by Lucas Kepner

Almost everything from mobile accessories to sophisticated devices are available online, but consumers attracted by this ease of purchasing products are also vulnerable to shady elements targeting them for scams. Buyers of NVIDIA's highly sought-after GeForce RTX 4090 are falling prey to dubious sellers who are purportedly selling non-functional units of these GPUs online, leaving unsuspecting customers with stripped-down, unusable hardware. The issue came to light when Northwest Repair, a tech repair service, highlighted a recent incident involving a buyer who purchased what appeared to be a used GeForce RTX 4090 on Facebook Marketplace.

Unsplash | Photo by Erik Mclean
Unsplash | Photo by Erik Mclean

Upon receiving the product, the buyer discovered that the card was devoid of essential components, rendering it completely useless. Upon discovering that the GPU was malfunctioning, the affected individual sought assistance at a local tech shop. It was there that they were informed of their NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 being irreparably damaged ("fried"), and an offer of $200 was made to buy it back. But the victim declined the offer, anticipating a higher resale value, unaware of what would come next. When the unit was inspected at Northwest Repair, technicians found that the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 had been stripped of its GPU and memory, leaving the card essentially empty inside. The buyer had received only the original PCB, with the missing components likely sold separately for profit. This incident highlights the disappointing trend of scammers taking advantage of the scarcity of flagship Ada Lovelace SKUs in the market to deceive buyers.

The practice of selling GPU-less PCBs is not new and is reportedly a thriving business in China. Numerous NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 cards are being dismantled, with their essential components like GPUs and VRAM repurposed for AI platforms on different boards. The stripped-down PCBs are then discarded or sold at extremely low prices, ranging from $10 to $20 in online marketplaces. This highlights the risks associated with purchasing used products, and it's essential to take proactive measures, such as testing and benchmarking the GPU or having it inspected by reputable tech professionals, to ensure a secure transaction.

Unsplash | Photo by Nana Dua
Unsplash | Photo by Nana Dua

In a recent incident, a notable repair channel on YouTube issued a warning to potential graphics card buyers after receiving an Amazon-purchased GeForce RTX 4090 that turned out to be a sophisticated counterfeit, per Tom's Hardware. Tony from North West Repair (NWR) shared a video highlighting the importance of "buyer beware" in vivid terms. What initially seemed like a routine repair job on a $2,000 card became an alarming discovery of a fraudulent "no fix" scam crafted from mismatched components, including a "fried" RTX 4080 GPU and PCB, resulting in a poorly assembled FrankenGPU.



Tony's investigation into the fake RTX 4090 card revealed discrepancies when cross-referencing the GPU codename online. The assessment of the customer's graphics card commenced with an initial external inspection, prompted by the reported issue of "shipping damage." Upon examination, it was revealed that the Asus ROG Strix RTX 4090 with 24GB of VRAM displayed visible signs of damage, including a cracked PCB near the PCIe retention finger and a melted power connector.

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