Fighting Fakes In The Market For Used IT Equipment

The industry is on guard, but IT managers must exercise caution as well.
Buying used equipment is a business decision--getting fake used equipment is big trouble. The United Networking Equipment Dealers Association, a 350-member association of resellers, recently established a task force to address the issue of counterfeit products in secondary market channels.

To help UNEDA members distinguish between real and fake equipment, the organization has put together photo albums and lists of steps for a variety of products, such as gigabit interface converters. It also works with law enforcement and manufacturers to identify traffickers and will expel any member caught dealing in stolen or counterfeit products.

"It's important to members that they have a good reputation," says John Stafford, president of Network Liquidators and a founding UNEDA member. "We want to be regarded as legitimate businesses."

The group says it has reached out to Cisco Systems, a prime target of counterfeiters, without success.

"UNEDA has their position in the market, and we have ours," says Dave Walters, Cisco's director of brand protection in the United States and Canada. "Our position is, to buy authenticated equipment you have to go through the Cisco channel. If you go to the secondary market, you could be the victim of stolen or suspect product."

IT managers who think they've inadvertently purchased counterfeit or stolen gear should contact the original manufacturer. To avoid getting taken, always ask to see a title or other proof of sale.

Jeff Zeigler, CEO of TechTurn, a reseller of used and refurbished IT gear, says every piece of equipment that passes through its facility comes from enterprises and small businesses with title. Everything is documented by serial numbers so TechTurn can trace ownership.

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