How do you know if a memory card is fake?

What if you’ve bought a memory card online, or from someone online as second-hand… how do you know if it’s a fake? Most local camera stores (brick-and-mortar stores) are not going to hold and sell counterfeit goods and you can check on the goods in-store before your purchase. But, if you’re buying from Amazon.com for example, there’s no way to do any quality control of your own, as you’re only going off of an image on your screen, and you’re not viewing the actual product. You will have to see for yourself when the item’s in your hands and it’s gone through a bit of your own inspection.

Now, there’s a pretty small chance you will get something counterfeit. But buying a fake does exist. In fact, it happened to me last week. I bought another 64GB Lexar 2000x SD card (as per my gear list) and although the others I have bought have been awesome (and the real deal) this one was well and truly a fake. A deal on Amazon, and the scarcity of this particular card where I live, meant the online purchase was an obvious choice. What could go wrong, I’d done it a few times before?

Fake Card versus Real Card - in Images

What to look out for… when you receive your product.

  • Has it arrived in the official branded packaging?

  • Does the courier package contain all that was listed?

  • Are stickers/branding legit? Compare to a real product!

  • Does the item actually work? (mine did not - only a plastic shell)

  • Are there any official markings, text, etc as per real item?


Returns and Refunds

The Amazon.com returns experience has been far from ideal. Be sure to check on the return procedure of wherever you are buying from, so you know about what to expect if you ever need to log a return or refund. In my case, I need to ship the counterfeit memory card back to Amazon (at my own expense) they will then inspect and issue the refund - at their own discretion.

What seemed like a good deal, fantastic shipping time, and an overall convenience, turned into a nightmare of scrambling for alternative cards before a photo-shoot, and a whole lot of inconvenience. Not to mention extra costs (return shipping) and less money in hand with nothing to show for it (until the refund comes in). Think about all this before you purchase online again, and try your utmost to support your local camera store instead.


Local Stores

If you’re in South Africa, here’s a list of stores I’ve had good dealings with in the past - be sure to check them out - I have shopped with these stores online too and I have never had an issue, and have only received great service. I’ve listed what I normally get from them in brackets.



In closing, just remember that buying online always carries some kind of risk. Buy with reputable stores you trust and can recommend. If they let you down (like Amazon.com has in this case) find somewhere else to hand over your hard earned cash.

Happy shooting,
Ken