Customs & Border Protection Detaining and Confiscating Suspect Counterfeits

cbpThere are a lot of questions about how the US Customs and Border Protection Agency detains and confiscates products.  We were fortunate to meet with the Deputy Director of Trade and found out a few answers, but we still can’t say exactly what they are doing there.  That may just be how they prefer it.  Here are some answers that were helpful to us in understanding their current process for inspecting electronic components;

  • They have 10 different industry specializations, one of which is their Center of Excellence for Consumer Electronics and Semiconductors.
  • The companies who import items that are confiscated, as well as their overseas suppliers, are subsequently targeted for increased inspections and detentions.
  • They are using many of the standard methods internally for authentication of semiconductors (acetone swipe, country of origin consistent, date codes, lot codes, etc.)
  • They have recently invested in a counterfeit detection lab consisting of microscopes, X-ray and decapsulation equipment.
  • They contact the manufacturers of the product and often send them samples for verification.  They say that if manufacturers are not being completely forthright on their evaluations, they have ways to make them accountable for their lack of goodwill cooperation.  The reason this is so important is because it would be really easy for manufacturers to just say everything is suspect counterfeit if it is not coming from one of their authorized distributors.  Then authentic parts would get confiscated all the time.
  • Their agents still do not have bag sealing equipment to keep moisture sensitive parts dry nor do they have a good way to strap trays to keep the parts from getting damaged during further transit.  Our team has given the deputy director some tips on what to use for strapping and sealing components, but the cost seemed to be the hurdle stopping them from improving their process.  We have been a victim of damaged parts on a small scale due to this lack of proper packaging procedures, but there have been larger cases outside of AERI in which expensive parts have been made unusable.
  •  There is a program in place for an agent to detain and confiscate parts if a US buyer suspects parts of being counterfeit.
  •  If you do have inexpensive parts confiscated which you do not plan to fight for, it is wise to send a letter explaining that you are not going to argue with their results, and be sure to include what actions you plan to take to avoid getting counterfeits sent to you in the future.

Overall, we were pleasantly surprised that the agency has been making big improvements, but they still have a little ways to go.  At the rate they are going it seems like they will be able to solve some of the remaining problems soon, with the help of constructive criticism coming from importers.

New Comprehensive Book out on Counterfeit Electronic Components

CaptureThis is just what the industry needed, a complete book on counterfeit electronic components and their impact on the supply chain.  I had been planning for years to write something myself, but I never found the time.  I am glad to see somebody has.  To get a copy follow the link here

Distributors No Longer Responsible for DNA Marking of Electronic Components

DNA logoThe DLA (Defense Logistics Agency) has made the decision to no longer require distributors to mark the 5962 and 5961 part classes with DNA for later authentication.  They have decided to take the process in-house.  Originally each distributor which wanted to supply the DLA with electronic components, in the aforementioned part classes, was required to attain their own DNA signature and have each part marked prior to shipment to the DLA.  The process of becoming capable to provide that service was in excess of $50,000 for each distributor.  The DLA had begun reimbursing all of the distributors for their expenses to become registered to perform these activities and to provide the marking.  As more and more distributors requested the DNA program it obviously became very expensive for the DLA.

This move to bring it in-house to the DLA will make the entry to sell these products much easier for distributors.   There are still rigorous testing requirements, which align with the AS6081 procedures, but the marking requirement has been removed.  Please read the document from the DLA at the following link for more information and details about the changes. 

5 Characteristics of Counterfeit Electronic Components

counterfeit detectionElectronics are delicate and the smallest faults in one component could damage the whole system. Counterfeit electronic components can lead to warranty issues, injuries, and lawsuits. It is paramount to ensure that the electronic components used are not counterfeit.

There are some complex methods you can use to check for authenticity but you can also perform a few quick visual tests to ascertain the possibility of counterfeit components. These visual tests are performed with a microscope with at least 30x magnification. Here are some of the things to check for:

  • Typos on manufacturer labels. An authentic component will have perfect spelling, so one without is highly suspicious.
  • The date codes on the label and the parts should be the same. If they are not, the counterfeits may have been added on later, and hence the reason for mismatched dates.
  • Components big enough will display countries of origins. A part with the same lot code can’t be manufactured in separate countries.
  • Compare the size and shape of the indents on the parts from the same lot. Every electronic component from a genuine manufacturer will always have the indents in the same spot and be of the same size. Counterfeiters usually have difficulty with consistency.
  • Compare the markings on the parts with manufacturer specifications. Authentic parts should have the markings on the same spot on every part from the same lot, and they should never be on top of an indent. Sloppy markings is a good indicator of counterfeit components.

These are some of the quickest ways to detect counterfeit components. Avoiding counterfeits can not only save a company millions of dollars but also help by reducing risk to our lives as electronics play a significant role in today’s worlds, whether it’s pacemakers or airplanes.

May Manufacturer of the Month: ST Microelectronics

st microelectronicsSince the company’s formation in 1987, ST Microelectronics has dedicated itself to innovation and product design. With nearly 20% of its 45,000 person staff working in R&D, the company has maintained an impressive 16,000 patents and 9,000 patent families.

As a leading manufacturer of integrated devices, ST serves all electronics segments. Within their embedded processing segment, ST offers a full range of microcontrollers including 8-bit MCUs based on the STM8 core, 32-bit MCUs based on the ARM-Cortex-M and a comprehensive selection of EEPROMs. This impressive range of products is utilized in a number of technological applications including bank cards, IT security, e-government, public transport and mobile communications.

ST’s commitment to cutting edge technology has earned it a leading position in the global market. The company ranks competitively in in the manufacture of MPEG decoders, smart card chips, automotive integrated circuits, computer peripherals and semiconductors. Among its broad range of products, ST has principally concentrated on the segments of sense and power technologies, automotive products and embedded-processing solutions.

In addition to ST’s dedication to product development, the company has adopted a customer-oriented approach to manufacturing. With sales offices, wafer fabrication and assembly sites located worldwide, ST’s customers can expect cost-efficient, secure and timely service.

In their digital consumer segment, ST has combined their innovative mindset with their customer-centric philosophy by focusing on minimizing migration and customization costs often associated with transitioning to new technologies. According to ST, such initiatives benefit the company by encouraging innovation and serve to enhance consumer experience by inspiring the development of new products and more intelligent features.

Having sustained their position as a leader in all of their markets for over a quarter of a century, ST Microelectronics has a proven track record within the world of electronics manufacturing. Their unparalleled approach to serving their customers along with their tireless pursuit of the technologies of tomorrow assures consumers that the company has trained its eye on the future. AERI is a proud ST Microelectronics distributor. If you are looking to get a hold of any ST Microelectronics products please get in touch with us today.

July Manufacturer of the Month: Avago Technologies –

avago-distributorsAvago Technologies’ origin dates back to 1961, when the company functioned as the semiconductor products division of Hewlett-Packard. By 2005, already equipped with an extensive portfolio, the company broke off to become an independent entity. At the time of the split, Avago was the world’s largest privately held independent semiconductor company and, within five years, had unveiled a host of cutting-edge, next-generation technologies.

Employing a team of over 2,000 design and product engineers, Avago has amassed an impressive portfolio of intellectual property. The company has leveraged the experience of this team to uphold a “heritage of innovation” in their product lines, a heritage they trace back 50 years to their genesis within HP. Serving the wireless communications, wired infrastructure, enterprise storage, and industrial markets, Avago’s innovative solutions have long been employed in a multitude of applications such as cellular phones, data networking, telecommunications equipment, factory automation, alternative energy systems and power generation.

One of Avago’s defining characteristics is their commitment to offering high-performance design and integration capabilities. This commitment combined with their comprehensive portfolio and their focus on developing proprietary products ensures that Avago has the flexibility to provide solutions that meet any, and all, customer requirements.

Looking beyond their remarkable manufacturing capabilities, Avago’s global presence within the market ensures that clients worldwide have quick, reliable access to their products. Operating in tandem with their headquarters in San Jose and Singapore, the company has manufacturing, laboratory and distribution sites spread across nine countries.

From their ceaseless pursuit of innovative solutions to their service-driven approach to meeting the needs of their customers, Avago justly sits amongst the world’s top semiconductor companies. As a leading provider of critical components utilized in emerging technologies, the company continues to succeed in their mission to extend their heritage of innovation. Aeri is a trusted and reliable distributor or Avago parts. Please contact us for more information.

June Manufacturer of the Month: NXP Semiconductors

NXP-Semiconductors suppliers and distributorsFounded in 1953, NXP Semiconductors pride themselves on a rich history of innovation and versatility. As they continually aim to improve the quality of life of their customers, NXP focuses their research and development on generating solutions that promote increased energy efficiency, security, safety and performance.

With more than 24,000 employees in over 25 countries, NXP’s portfolio of mixed signal and standard product solutions contains an extensive catalog of market-leading products. With a history of innovation in RF, analog, power management, interface, security and digital processing, NXP’s solutions are utilized in a wide range of applications including television components, car security, telematics, smart metering and contactless identification products.

In providing these technologies, NXP has maintained a firm commitment to advancing their applications expertise and using that knowledge to cultivate positive customer relationships. Boasting a portfolio of roughly 11,000 patents and over 3,000 employees dedicated to research and development, the company’s unceasing dedication to understanding existing — and developing new — electronic system solutions is well-established within the industry. As a result of their devotion, NXP has been afforded the opportunity to engage in long-term, worldwide relationships with nearly every major automotive, mobile handset, mobile base station, identification, consumer electronics and lighting supplier.

Steadfast in their pursuit of innovation, NXP’s research team seeks to identify solutions that promote a smarter way of living. While the company soundly understands the obscured, often invisible nature of mobile technology, they nevertheless endeavor to evolve — and expand — their current catalog with the hope of supplying mobile solutions that provide secure, seamless and energy-efficient connections.

As one of the top semiconductor sales leaders, NXP’s financial growth has earned them the opportunity to pursue a number of cutting edge technologies. From energy efficient GreenChip technology to solutions designed for the home automation market, NXP’s future holds a bounty of exciting technologies that — coupled with their customer-centric philosophy — will undoubtedly affirm their leading position in the global market.

Xilinx Counterfeits – All Kinds of Problems with this Batch of XQV100-PQ240 Electronic Components

XQV100-4PQ240N Lot-D4175896A Anomaly compilation

This batch of Xilinx counterfeit parts XQV100-PQ240 had every counterfiet clue you could imagine.  Spelling errrors on the packaging, re-tinned leads, blacktopping, chipped packaging from the removal process, you name it.  I still don’t get how even a poorly trained QC tech can’t catch simple stuff like this.  You can guess the vendors status in our system now.  AERI has a great colaborative team of counterfeit detection experts making this impossible to ship from our warehouse.

Click here to see more on this topic.

Simple New Tool to Detect Counterfeit Electronic Components?

a better mousetrap

a better mousetrap

Everyone is looking for a new and simple tool to easily detect counterfeit electronic components, the old “build a better mousetrap” idea.  The answer is, there isn’t a single simple tool, BUT there is an unbelievably easy and inexpensive solution.

  • You don’t have to buy it
  • No extra staff costs
  • No new procedures
  • No training
  • No stress

Solution: A great independent distributor.  There are a few electronic component distributors in the market, including AERI, who do everything for you, so you do not have to worry about a thing.  (Urgent note: there are many distributors that say they do counterfeit testing to get your business. You must audit their procedures before ordering.)

There is no easy way to detect counterfeits without investing in expensive equipment, pricey engineers, complicated procedures, and extensive training.  Let the experts handle all of that so your company can focus on its own core competencies.

There is no mandate that your organization, itself, must be capable of detecting counterfeits.  Even the most widely accepted SAE AS5553 counterfeit avoidance document, created to give equipment manufactures clear direction, does not state that the manufacturers must have the competency to detect fake electronic components.  The document leaves that open to being performed by another entity.  Take advantage of the expertise already out there.

Before you take the leap of faith that this solution requires, here is a short list of the requirements that SAE’s AS6081 (US government adopted counterfeit detection document for distributors) requires of a distributor to be capable of in order to properly test parts for authenticity;

  • Document and packaging inspection
  • Detailed external visual inspection
  • Remarking and resurfacing tests
  • X-RAY inspection
  • XRF testing
  • Decapsulation

If your quality and audit team can receive assurance that your independent distributor is competent to utilize these tools, and are well trained in counterfeit detection inspection techniques, don’t try to re-invent the mousetrap.  Detecting counterfeits is too complicated and no single tool will ever be able to identify every counterfeit.

Man awaits sentencing for selling counterfeit electronic components

On Friday, March 28, 2014, Pennsylvania resident, Hao Yang, will face sentencing for conspiracy to traffic counterfeit electronic components into the United States from China.


After his arrest in June 2013, U.S. Immigration and Homeland Security Investigations identified Yang as a co-conspirator in a scheme to traffic in counterfeit military grade integrated circuits and fraudulently sell them as legitimate American-made parts.


From 2010 to June 2013, Yang and his co-conspirators created and operated several companies in Maryland and Pennsylvania to facilitate the conspiracy. In addition, he maintained numerous bank accounts to deposit his illegal commissions and make payments associated with his counterfeit activities. He also used the commissions he received from his co-conspirators to pay for living expenses and other purchases.


Counterfeit military electronic components sold in the US pose a threat to national security. By using counterfeit circuits, their malfunction or failure could likely have caused serious bodily injury or impaired military operations, personnel or national security.


As part of his plea agreement, Yang will be required to forfeit five bank accounts worth over $59,000, his 2010 Acura purchased with proceeds of the crime, and counterfeit computer software, DVDs, sports jerseys and other items with an approximate value of $280,720. Yang faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.


For more information, please click here.