Pandemic lockdowns in metropolitan cities have led to chip shortages for all kinds of electronic devices, while interest in electronics has risen due to the requirement of devices for remote work/school as well as simple boredom among people on being asked to stay at home.

The direct results of this global chip shortage are clear and well-reported. Restoring an old product line and correctly labeling them is okay. But this alternative is only available to big, established manufacturers like MSI – companies with old but efficient supply lines, permissions, and in few instances, long-stocked components that can be picked up dusted off and reused. Smaller corporations looking to profit from the pandemic situation have a quicker and easier approach to satisfy an unmet market need: counterfeit products.

Counterfeit Electronics

Calabria told ZDNet “The global chip shortage has increased the chances for sinners to abuse the electronic devices business.” Counterfeit electronics aren’t an unusual problem. Counterfeit iPhones, Kindles, and many more have prospered on e-commerce websites such as Alibaba and Aliexpress for a long time. However counterfeit chips target their business differently—instead of chasing after customers seeking to save a little money, counterfeit chips target product lines that are at risk of shutting down completely. Few counterfeit semiconductors are just ‘gray market’ versions of genuine products. They usually begin from overbuilds or reworked failures. While these gray market chips perform just like the authentic versions, they are highly unstable in that it is difficult to ensure their reliability. This problem will probably not affect the biggest tech manufacturing companies, which purchase their parts directly from the chip factories that manufacture them in massive quantities. The risk impacts businesses that purchase their components in smaller quantities from sellers further down the supply chain. However, those sellers supply manufacturers in the healthcare, automotive, and defense sectors.

Global chip shortage, chip shortage, counterfeit devices

One of the sellers, AERI, has an exceptional pattern to identifying counterfeit components, with lots of helpful examples. Genuine components generally have small defects in certain areas on the chip—counterfeiters may overlook to reproduce them, stuff them in during sanding and refinishing, or design them in the incorrect size, place, or shape. The physical surface examination isn’t always enough to find the difference between fake and genuine products. Counterfeiters are extremely knowledgeable of the time pressures businesses are suffering and are making a pitch that targets them.

Manufacturers are accustomed to counterfeit chips and usually take accurate measures to identify and avoid them. But according to Diganta Das CALCE, these methods can be left behind if it involves whether the line is operating or idle. Das is Electronic Reseller’s Association International (Electronic Reseller’s Association International (ERAI). But just like Calabria, even he is convinced that there is already a rush in counterfeit components in the supply chain. And this situation will become more obvious in the expected months as businesses have to deal with the difficulties created by the use of counterfeit chips.