In a sophisticated scam that has left tech enthusiasts and gamers reeling, counterfeit Nvidia RTX 4090 graphics cards are being sold on the second-hand market, with key components such as the GPU chip and memory modules missing.
This alarming trend has been reported across various tech news outlets, highlighting the lengths to which scammers will go to exploit the high demand for Nvidia’s flagship graphics card.
The Scam Unveiled
A recent incident reported by HKEPC, a Hong Kong-based technology website, details how a buyer, identified only as Mr. Hong, was duped into purchasing a counterfeit card for a staggering 13,000 Hong Kong Dollars (approximately $1,700 USD). The transaction, which took place through the online marketplace Carousell, left the buyer with a non-functional piece of hardware that appeared to have working ARGB lights but lacked the crucial GPU and memory modules necessary for operation.
The scam was further exposed when Mr. Hong attempted to use the card, only to find that it was completely dead upon installation, with no fan activity. A disheartening discovery followed when he inspected the card and found the absence of the GPU chip and several VRAM modules, some of which were improperly attached to thermal pads, indicating tampering. Efforts to contact the seller were futile, and local authorities were unable to assist, citing difficulties in following up on second-hand transactions.
The Broader Context
The emergence of these scams is not isolated. VideoCardz.com notes that visually convincing counterfeit cards are being sold at reasonable prices, luring unsuspecting buyers into false security. This trend is particularly alarming in regions like Asia, where U.S. export restrictions have limited the availability of high-end GPUs, creating a ripe environment for fraudsters.
The restriction of sales of high-end Nvidia GPUs, including the RTX 4090, is part of U.S. efforts to protect military and national security interests from advanced AI processing capabilities. As a result, Guru3D reports that RTX 4090 cards in China are being repurposed for server use, with the GPU and memory modules extracted and used in server PCBs, leaving behind the stripped-down hardware that scammers are selling as functional graphics cards.
A Rising Tide of Complaints
Forums such as Chiphell have seen an increase in complaints about similar scams. The situation is exacerbated by the fact that legitimate alternatives, such as the GeForce RTX 4090D and RTX 4080 SUPER, are expected to become available in China, offering a safer purchasing option for consumers.
The phrase “caveat emptor” (let the buyer beware) has never been more relevant, especially in the high-stakes world of high-end GPUs. TechRadar emphasizes the importance of purchasing from trusted sellers and known retailers or auction sellers with good feedback and reputation. They also provide advice on how to avoid falling victim to such scams.
In the words of one unfortunate victim, as quoted by Tweaktown, “$1660 flushed down the toilet, as the buy has an expensive RTX 4090 that simply doesn’t, and will never work.”
Recommendations for Consumers
Experts advise consumers to steer clear of marketplaces like Carousell for GPU purchases and to use official channels or venues where the product can be physically inspected. With the anticipated launch of the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090D in China, buyers will soon have a legitimate alternative to consider.
The scam involving counterfeit Nvidia RTX 4090 graphics cards serves as a stark reminder of the perils lurking in the second-hand market for tech products. As scammers become more sophisticated, staying informed and vigilant is the best defense against falling victim to such fraudulent schemes.