Fake memory cards have been a problem at Amazon for several years. The biggest problem with fake cards is card failure and the permanent loss of the photos on the card. Just think about how you would feel if you lost precious, once in a lifetime photos on your memory card. And to make matters worse, you find out data recovery software can’t recover the lost photos from a fake memory card. They are gone forever.
The situation is compounded by bad online advice. One articles says you can tell fake and real SanDisk cards apart by the notch at the bottom of the card: real cards have the notch and fake cards supposedly don’t. But the fake card on the left in the photo immediately above has the same notch at the bottom of the card as the real card. So you can’t tell fake from real by the notch. There are some ways to tell. Check out the PetaPixel article in the links section at the end of this article.
To make matters worse, some articles warning about fake memory cards have links to third party sellers at Amazon which is where the fake cards show up in the first place. That’s like warning someone about alligators and then sending them right into the middle of an alligator infested swamp.
And finally, you generally can’t tell the fake cards from the real ones until they arrive. It would be better to eliminate the fakes before you make your purchase.
The problem at Amazon is the third party sellers. You have no idea where they got their memory cards, and the third party sellers may have no idea if they are buying fake cards or not. They just buy cards at cheap prices and re-sell them at Amazon. And for the record, buying memory cards on the cheap at eBay is not a wise choice either. Cheaping out on memory cards is a foolish choice.
How to Buy Safely at Amazon
The secret to getting real memory cards is to buy your memory cards from someone who gets them directly from the manufacturers. The big photography stores like Adorama and B&H Photo (both in NYC) buy directly from the manufacturers so you know you are getting the real deal. Amazon also buys directly from the manufacturers.
If you order from Amazon, on the product page look for “Ships from and sold by Amazon.com.” Note the red arrow in the above screen capture. This is one of the safest ways to order from Amazon.
The other way to order memory cards safely from Amazon is to look for “Ships from and sold by Adorama Camera.” Adorama is a one of the biggest, best, and most reputable photography dealers. Buying from Adorama via Amazon is one of the safest ways to buy authentic memory cards.
Avoid Third Party Sellers at Amazon
If you go to an Amazon page and you see something like “Ships from and sold by WXYZ Camera” or “Sold by WXYZ Camera and fulfilled by Amazon”, don’t order. (WXYZ Camera is a hypothetical name, not a real company.) You are dealing with a third party seller and you have no idea where they got the memory cards. They might be real, but they might also be fake. For all you know, they bought the cheapest memory cards they could find on eBay to re-sell on Amazon.
Why Can’t You Recover Lost Photos from a Fake Memory Card?
There is excellent photo recovery software which has a good chance or recovering lost photos from a real memory card. My favorite software is PhotoRescue from DataRescue (link below).
But if you bought a fake card, all bets are off when it comes to recovering your photos. Read this sad story by a customer service rep:
“It’s not been long since the end of winter holidays we’ve got our first support call in the new year. “Hi”, the voice said. “I’ve just got a Christmas deal on a new 64-gig micro SD card. I used that card on a Christmas vacation and took more than a thousand pictures. Back home, I could only read the first 300 or so. The rest of my pictures come out corrupted. Can your software help?”
“The voice didn’t sound overly concerned, so after a few questions about the memory card we informed the customer that what he’s got was a fake. “What? A fake? I bought it from Amazon!”
“Sigh. We couldn’t do much to help the customer other than tell him he wasn’t the first or the last to be tricked with one of those sleazy dealers offloading fake memory cards with advertised capacity much higher than their actual storage. Indeed, his only recourse would be returning the card (with the cost of shipping being nearly half of what he paid for the card itself) and leaving well-deserved angry feedback. But all that won’t bring the rest of his photos back. Nothing can.”
Why are the photos gone forever? The reasons are technical and complicated. Read this article.
Buy memory cards at my Amazon photography store. I check the links at my Amazon powered photography store on a periodic basis to make sure the links take you to pages where you are buying safely from Amazon or Adorama. But Amazon sometimes changes the links so they take you to a different page. Before ordering make sure the page says “Ships from and sold by Amazon.com” or “Ships from and sold by Adorama Camera.” If you see a third party name, don’t order.
PhotoRescue from DataRescue – My favorite photo recovery software.
To minimize the chances of losing photos, read this article: Memory Cards Part 1: The Best Way To Use Memory Cards To Avoid Lost Images
If you have already lost photos, don’t do anything with your memory card until you read this article: Memory Cards Part 2: Lost Photos
Beware: Amazon Still Sells Counterfeit Memory Cards at Peta Pixel. This article gives you some ways to tell if a memory card is fake.
Recovering Data from Fake SD Cards – This article tells you why lost photos on a fake memory card are gone forever.