Counterfeit (Fake) Headsets - How to recognize and avoid them; what are the differences?

Who sells counterfeits?



According to our research, a lot of the headsets sold on Ebay are unfortunately counterfeits. It is true that determining for sure just by looking at an action if the item is fake or real is very hard and prone to errors, but we are pretty confident in the numbers we got.

First, we looked at the sellers inventory – if they were selling any headsets at lower than normal for that device price; we examined the feedbacks they have received from buyers; we examined the images the sellers were providing; the warranty claims and many other signs which we found to be a tell-tell of a distributor of counterfeit items.



In one day, we counted about 50 fake Jabra JX10 were sold on Ebay, and about 55 fake Nokia BH-800. If you put those numbers into a prospective, it comes to about a little over 20 000 a year only from the BH-800. The average price at the time of our research (end of October) for a fake JX10 was $50, while the real one was close to $90. The question is how many are sold through different channels such as Yahoo Auction, online stores etc.



Which are the most faked headsets?



Keep in mind that not every single model is faked. Usually models that are with high price or are very common and well known are faked first.
The list below contains headsets which we had and can confirm were fake:

Motorola H700, H500, H3, HS820 and HT820
Jabra JX10
Nokia BH-800

The second list contains headsets which we did not have and can not confirm that are fake, but we think they are:

Nokia BH-802, BH-700, BH-600, BH-300, HS-54W
Motorola H5
Sony Ericsson BH-608, BH-602, BH-610, HBH-65




What to do before purchasing headset?



We’ll try to give you a few important steps to follow before purchasing a headset.



  1. Determine the price at which a headset is sold from large retailers. The best way is to go to pricegrabber.com or any other price comparison site. At the time this article is published, according to Pricegrabber, BH-800’s lowest price is $79.98 shipped from storefront and $94.98 shipped from merchant (NewEgg.com). Compare those prices to the $25-$30 for which the fakes go on Ebay and you have your first hint that something is wrong.
  2. If purchasing from Ebay, check the seller’s feedback for any complaints about defective or counterfeit items.
  3. Check if the seller offers other headsets at very low prices. We determined that most people offering non-genuine headsets usually have a full range of those – Jabra, Nokia, Motorola
  4. Check if the seller states anything about warranty. If not, ask explicitly if the device comes with Original Manufacturers Warranty. A lot of the sellers offer warranty, but usually it is their own and if something happens a few months down the road, no one knows if they will honor it.
  5. ALWAYS use Paypal or Credit Card. We actually disputed one of the fake purchases with PayPal and we got our money back!
  6. Be aware of sellers from Hong Kong or Chine, as almost all of them offer fake items.
  7. The only way to be 100% sure you are getting genuine headset, is to purchase it directly from Motorola or Nokia. The second best option is to get it from a large, reputable retailer such as Buy.com, New.com, Best Buy etc


What to do if you already have purchased a counterfeit device?



If the purchase was recent, as stated before, the best way is to dispute it with PayPal (as we did) or your credit card company. In most cases, you will be refunded the full amount you paid, including shipping.



The second option is to file Online Fraud Complaint Reporting Form with Ebay. All claims must be received by the Claims Administrator within 90 days of the closure of the listing to be valid. The maximum coverage is $200 per item, minus $25 for processing costs. So if the price is $100, you will get $75.



If you feel like the Good Samarian, you can report any suspicious item here:



http://pages.ebay.com/help/policies/replica-counterfeit.html



We did report about five auction selling what we suspected was counterfeit and the next day the auctions were taken down.



In case longer period has passed, the other option is to contact the seller (if they still exist) and ask for a refund.



According to Title 18 of United States Code, the term counterfeit mark means a spurious mark:



1) that is used in connection with trafficking in goods or services;



2) that is identical with, or substantially indistinguishable from, a mark registered for those goods or services on the principal register in the United States Patent and Trademark Office and in use, whether or not the defendant knew such mark was so registered; and



3) the use of which is likely to cause confusion, to cause mistake, or to deceive



18 U.S.C. § 2320(e)(1).




The Stop Counterfeiting in Manufactured Goods Act (H.R. 32) which became a law on March 16, 2006, criminalizes the possession of counterfeits with intent to distribute, as well as the importation and exportation of counterfeit goods. Also, the stature subjects to forfeiture any article that bears or consists of a counterfeit mark, and any property derived from proceeds or used in the commission of the violation.



The penalties for whoever intentionally traffics goods or services and knowingly uses a counterfeit mark on or in connection with such goods or services shall, if an individual, be fined not more than $2,000,000 or imprisoned not more than 10 years. The fine is even higher for a company – $5,000,000.



Quoting the above usually get the counterfeiters moving and expedites your refund. After you get it, you can open an official investigation with the Internet Crime Complaint Center which is a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center. Just in 2005, the IC3 processed more than 228,400 complaints, from which 97,076 were referred to federal, state or local law enforcement agencies for further consideration. Auction fraud was by far the most reported offence, comprising 62.7% of referred complaints.



What is the Ebay’s stand on counterfeits?



Ebay has long used “hands-off” approach to its actions. Pretty much they view themselves as a marketplace where anyone can setup a stand and sell its products. According to Ebay, they can not be hold liable for trademark violations, simply because they have no way of knowing or determining which products are genuine or fake and the actual rights owners must notify them.



What is Original Manufacturers stand on counterfeits?



The issue here is that manufacturers actually are either not aware of the problem or more likely do not care about it. The most widely faked accessories according to Nokia are the batteries, and as they can cause safety concerns, they have established way to check their authenticity. Bluetooth headsets, due to their low power consumption, are not viewed as safety risk, hence not in the manufacturers Top priority list for counterfeit investigations.



Ebay makes money from fees no matter if the product is genuine or not. The manufacturers and their customers are the only party that is loosing. The sale of counterfeits erodes brand names, as our tests clearly showed the fakes under-perform considerably. In addition, of the manufacturers bear losses from unrealized sales.



We tried to contact Motorola, Jabra and Nokia, which our investigation showed are most widely faked. Despite our numerous requests for comment, only Nokia replied to our questions and actually showed any concern. Jabra only sent us one genuine JX10 for out tests, but never replied to our questions. We never heard anything back from Motorola.

Here are our questions and Marika Patto (Nokia Enhancement Product Marketing Manager) for which we thank her:

1. Can the accessory’s authenticity be checked online/offline? Only battery authenticity can be checked online. Sometimes Nokia product experts can tell from a photo if it is fake (especially of a photo of the type label information), some times we need to see it to be able to say for sure. There are many levels of quality in the copies. Serial numbers have been known to be copied correctly so they cannot alone be used to determine authenticity.
2. Does Nokia provide warranty to non-genuine accessories? No.
3. Should versions for different markets (US, Asia, Europe) be absolutely the same in quality/packaging/accessories? Packaging is different but has similar visual look in US, Asia and Europe, and also some accessories are different. But for example, Nokia Bluetooth Headset BH-800 products themselves are exactly the same in all markets.
4. What does Nokia do to fight counterfeit distribution? We work actively with customs, law enforcement and local authorities to deter, identify and prosecute counterfeiters all over the world. We have a specialist team that tracks counterfeiting activities globally, and we also cooperate with other companies as most counterfeiters are making also other than Nokia products. Our main focus is in trying to identify the source of the product (manufacturers) rather than going after retailers, as that is more effective in stopping the flow of counterfeit products.
5. Can you provide a list with the most counterfeited Nokia products and what the consumers need to know to distinguish them from the originals? Most counterfeited accessory products are batteries, and as counterfeit batteries can possibly cause safety concerns, we have taken steps to establish a global identification system for batteries, allowing end users around the world to check the authenticity of their battery using an online tool, or in some markets, also over SMS. Bluetooth headset counterfeits are a relatively new phenomena, we have only started to see counterfeit Nokia Bluetooth headsets since this summer.
6. Do you have any estimates on the percentage of counterfeit products (mainly Bluetooth accessories)? It is almost impossible to estimate the percentage of counterfeit products but so far our anti-counterfeiting team has not seen a significant number of Bluetooth products in this market. Asia has seen relatively large numbers of counterfeit products in general and Latin America as well. There has been a few reports of counterfeit BH-800s in Europe. We actually have had no reports of counterfeit BH-800s in the US so far so this could be the first. I would be very interested in taking a look at the headset.
7. Any tips to help consumers make sure they get genuine products? (aside from purchasing directly from Nokia)? Look at the visual quality of the packaging and the product, and also whether the Nokia logo looks correct, purchase from known sources, ie major retailers whether online or in person. Make sure the packaging has the Nokia Original Enhancements logo. Unfortunately some of the counterfeit products are visually unidentifiable and have to be opened up or studied by an expert to be identified.
8. If a consumer suspects that a product they purchased might be fake, who should they contact? The source, ie who they purchased it from. If it is a counterfeit, they can also report it to local authorities for further investigation. But sometimes dealers or retailers are not aware that they are selling counterfeit product, ie they purchased it in good faith from a distributor or other source.

In a nutshell, if you have purchased a counterfeit, Nokia will not render any warranty service. Currently, the authenticity of a headset can not be checked online, as there is no such system developed. According to Nokia, they have not received any reports on fake BH-800 units in the US (they just need to check Ebay ended auctions and will have tens each day).

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15 Comments

1. Anthony unregistered

I have a fake BH-700 Nokia headset. I must say I thought it was a fake from the start. Battery life is bad, but on top of that it doesn't keep the "security" code so every time I turn it on & attempt to pair I have to type 0000. That doesn't happen w/ the real BH-700 I also have. Great article! Thanks for confirming my suspicions.

2. unregistered

Wow.....it took this long for someone to actually post an article on fake bluetooths? These have been circulating for months and months now. Another should be written on car and home chargers too. Oh and even the handset themselves.

3. PR5 unregistered

i disagree with the buying from large companies bit, i got my Jabra JX10 from a well establish online US company, and its still a fake, its been 3 months and i havent had a problem with the fake, it works suprisingly good for a POS. it was only $60CAD Vs $200 CAD (bestbuy). i dont mine counterfit as long as it works GOOD and is super cheap. also the motorola headset that i got from bestbuy was a fake too, the HS820, i know there was something wrong with it, it even smelled bad, i returned it that day since it was so obvious

4. raulr unregistered

Motorola does have a site dedicated to fake accessories. It shows you how to identify the real from the fake and give you a link to report it. The site ishttp://www.motorola.com/original

5. ad070 unregistered

i bought 3 of them from retail stores and they were fake but i was more than happy with the quality so i dont really care. your going out to buy a headset, as long as it does the job, the quality is good and your happy, i don't really care, its exactly what i was expecting.

6. PhoneArena unregistered

Raulr, At the time this article was published, Motorola did not have that site. It is something new and I guess created after we wrote our piece.

7. Metallic unregistered

So the motorola h700 FAKE is actually better, am I seeing these charts right?

8. LS unregistered

Hmmm ... I should buy the fake H700 then. According to the charts, in overall the fake H700 has better performance than the real one. Very weird unless the charts were messed up.

9. confused unregistered

I'm a bit confused. I purchased the Nokia BH-800 and read your review on pg 2. The one I have matches up with the genuine one you described... everything except for the box. Mine came in the darker box w/o the animation. Is mine a fake?

10. unregistered

very nice, i didnot know there are such things!

11. jay unregistered

i bought a fake spellchecker on eBay once...

12. malouu unregistered

I BOUGHT A FAKE BH700 FROM EBAY. Sound horrible, But looks like a Nokia. The most faked is the ac3 charger which is NOT an AC3 and the MANUAL which is In English anf Chinese

13. nickel unregistered

To confused, I have the same thing you got. The one we have is the real one. The box is different for different countries and different models. The one in Canada at Tiger Direct have both the darker box and the lighter box. They have different model number, but are both real.

14. Nickel unregistered

http://www.tigerdirect.ca/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=3475109&CatId=1810 The necklace is the dead giveaway. It looks more expensive then the ones you get at the silver necklace stand, so you can't get the real thing for under $30 retail just the necklace alone. And then you have the bluetooth to account for. I don't care how cheap nokia can make them in China, but I am very impressed with the necklace.

15. hooher tod unregistered

Yes there should realize the reader to RSS my feed to RSS commentary, quite simply

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