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We have access to a trusted, extensive global sourcing network. Select below whether you would like to search for a single part or multiple parts in one go. Enter the part number for your required electronic component in the box below and click 'search'.

Image relating to Counterfeit electronics components - a growing problem

Counterfeit electronics components - a growing problem

The multi-billion-dollar black market of unauthorised copies, imitations, substitute, modified or recycled components are knowingly misrepresented as a legitimate part from an authorised manufacturer.


Counterfeit electronics continues to be a multibillion-dollar problem

Catching and prosecuting counterfeiters is an extremely difficult, time-consuming and expensive process. Often these counterfeit components do an excellent job mirroring the ones you ordered and don’t always fail initial testing. But down the line, they can cause failures with potentially severe consequences. That's why prevention is always the first line of defence. There is no sole source of counterfeit electronic parts and with such lucrative returns, the criminals behind them are extremely innovative. Anyone with the knowledge and resources necessary to create counterfeit electronic parts, push them into the EEE parts supply chain, and profit from their sale can do so. Which is why the black market for counterfeit electronics continues to be a multibillion-dollar problem.


Counterfeiters continually adapt methods to mask part authenticity

Counterfeit electronic components have long been a thorn in the side of manufacturers, and the counterfeit industry continues to thrive by adapting new methods to mask part authenticity.


Three common ways counterfeiters create their products are:

  • Old parts are refurbished and resold as new parts
  • Old parts are relabelled and sold as entirely different parts
  • Modifying a part number on a new part so it appears to be a more expensive variant

These involve a technique used by counterfeiters called 'blacktopping' - this involves a thin layer of blacktopping material to cover the original part numbers and details. The old part is then re-printed with false markings to purposefully present the part as something that it isn't.

Most counterfeit manufacturers are in the Far East, and their Achilles Heel is their lack of ability to properly replicate the marking on the part package. Things like incorrect font, misspelled words, incorrect part number, logo or country of origin can be an easy sign that the part isn’t genuine. Which means the properly trained eye can identify a counterfeit electronic part easily. However, just because it passes a visual inspection, doesn't guarantee it's a genuine part.

As counterfeit inspection techniques improve, the counterfeiters’ operations will adapt their strategies. Higher-quality forgeries may slip through the cracks with these checks, what’s more it’s the most expensive components which will typically be the targets for sophisticated forgeries. Which means completely avoiding the counterfeit problem is impossible, but it is possible to stay one step ahead of it.


How to identify and avoid more sophisticated counterfeit electronic components

The safest way of avoiding counterfeits, especially if you need obsolete or hard-to-get electronic components is to work with a respected, reputable, and accredited distributor who subjects your components to multiple tests. Whistler Technology is an AS9120 approved supplier, we fully understand the issues that the industry continues to face with regards to supply chain management, product traceability and the elimination of fraudulent and Counterfeit Electronic Parts. We operate an Anti-counterfeit testing to Whistler Assured, AS6081 Level A, SPOC 419 or bespoke customer standards.


Helping you mitigate the risk of counterfeit components

A proportionate risk management system has been established, enabling us to handle any customer requirements as identified during a detailed contract review. Thus, ensuring we can meet and exceed all known requirements. As an independent distributor who sources franchised lines from around the world, we are well placed to provide every level of procurement support that your business needs.

Inspection methods that can help identify fake components, or at least signal some deeper inspection level is required involves a combination of inspection, testing and verification processes.


Here are some key quality control measures used by Whistler Technology

Documentation Verification: Our quality process verifies the accompanying documentation, such as datasheets, certificates and user manuals, is correct.

Packaging Inspection: We then examine the packaging for signs of poor quality, including misspelled labels, incorrect logos, or inconsistent fonts.

Visual Inspection of the Component: We conduct a detailed visual inspection of the components and their packaging, looking for irregularities in markings, labels and overall construction. Carefully checking the component markings, including logos, serial numbers and date codes. Legitimate components have precise and consistent markings. Any discrepancies or irregularities may indicate counterfeiting.

Dimensional and Physical Checks: We measure the physical dimensions of the components and compare them with the specifications provided by the manufacturer. Counterfeit components may have slight variations in size.

Functional Testing: We can perform functional tests to ensure that the components meet specified performance criteria. Using electrical testing equipment to verify the electrical characteristics of the components. Authentic components should meet the specified electrical parameters, while counterfeit ones may fall short.

X-ray Inspection: Using X-ray inspections to examine the internal structure of components can reveal hidden defects or inconsistencies that may not be visible during external inspections. If suspicious, we conduct decapsulation analysis to expose the internal structure of integrated circuits. Genuine components have consistent and well-defined internal structures.

Material and Chemical Analysis: Using material analysis techniques we can verify the composition of the materials used in the components. Performing chemical analysis will identify any discrepancies in the chemical composition of the components. Genuine components adhere to industry standards, while counterfeits may contain unauthorised or substandard materials.

Testing for RoHS Compliance: Our testing ensures that the components comply with RoHS directives for the presence of hazardous substances. Authentic components adhere to environmental regulations.

Traceability and Supply Chain Monitoring: We implement traceability systems to monitor the supply chain and track the movement of components from manufacturers to end-users. This can help identify and address potential points of counterfeiting.

These quality control measures, when applied rigorously and consistently, can help us identify and prevent the use of sophisticated counterfeit electronic components in manufacturing and production processes. Regularly updating and improving these measures is essential to stay ahead of evolving counterfeit tactics.


Lab Testing to Enhanced Standards

Standard Visual and Permanency testing is conducted in-house, but all further testing is outsourced to specialist laboratories. We have established relationships with, or we can utilise any existing approved Laboratories you already use.

Whistler Technology is committed to industry-leading component testing and quality standards. We are a highly accredited team of procurement experts and have invested significantly in anti-counterfeit testing to Whistler Assured, AS6081 Level A, SPOC 419 or bespoke customer standards.

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