A short word on hardware pricing scams

Earlier today, we got sucked in by a scam for what appeared to be an amazing deal in the UK for a GTX 1080 card. We discovered the error shortly after the post went live and updated the post, which was only targeted at our UK readers so you may not have seen it. In the interest of explaining how the scam slipped by our filter and how to avoid these sort of deals in the first place, we felt a short follow-up post was warranted.

First, you need to understand the difference between Amazon and the Amazon Marketplace. We initially thought this was either a clearance (perhaps in advance of GTX 1080 Ti) or maybe just a pricing error, and we got a bit too excited. For that we apologize. It turns out the deal was from an Amazon Marketplace vendor, where there's less control over what's being offered. New as well as used products are offered, and sometimes there are regional restrictions. In this particular case, the vendor PNY (and others) have had faked products show up in their Amazon store, with prices on a bunch of cards dropping by £200 or more on the GTX 1080. Too good to be true? Yeah, but if it was a pricing error you might get lucky….

When you look at the fine print, however, the scam becomes obvious. On another product (which hasn't been removed/corrected yet), there's a message: "Dispatched from and sold by WẸ CAN'T DlSPATCH T0 ALL ADDRẸSSES; BẸF0RE "ȦDD T0 BASKẸT"; C0NTȦCT US: ♛♕jerks[at]scammy.com♕♛." Sigh. It's like a bad phishing email, but it's in the fine print on a major shopping site and we overlooked it. There are at least a dozen other GTX 1080 cards on Amazon UK right now with a similar message, made to look like they're from legit sellers (PNY, Gainward, etc.), but they're not. Again, our apologies are in order, and we'll do a better job at verifying deals in the future. This seems to be more of a UK phenomenon at this point, but it never hurts to remind all of our readers about the potential for scams.

Like many vendors, Amazon has some amazing tools and great deals at times. They also have one of the most annoying search features around, often turning up related products that are significantly different from what you searched for—sorting by lowest price is often useless for this reason. If a deal comes up that appears too good to be true, and it isn't sold directly by Amazon, it's a good idea to look into the vendor, and check to see if any other retailers have similar deals. The Amazon Marketplace isn't all bad, but don't make our mistake today and always check the fine print.

Jarred Walton

Jarred's love of computers dates back to the dark ages when his dad brought home a DOS 2.3 PC and he left his C-64 behind. He eventually built his first custom PC in 1990 with a 286 12MHz, only to discover it was already woefully outdated when Wing Commander was released a few months later. He holds a BS in Computer Science from Brigham Young University and has been working as a tech journalist since 2004, writing for AnandTech, Maximum PC, and PC Gamer. From the first S3 Virge '3D decelerators' to today's GPUs, Jarred keeps up with all the latest graphics trends and is the one to ask about game performance.