The Core i9-13900K is one of the best CPUs for gaming; therefore, it's unsurprising that scammers are selling knockoffs online. One Redditor discovered that his brand-new Core i9-13900K from Amazon UK was effectively a Core i7-13700K with a swapped IHS (integrated heat spreader).
The affected individual recounts that he reportedly bought the Core i9-13900K new directly from Amazon for £585 (~$736.34). The pricing didn't raise any red flags since the user paid close to MSRP for the 24-core chip. However, the Redditor didn't specify whether Amazon or a third-party seller sold him the processor.
Scammers have been flipping counterfeit processors for ages now. Switching the IHS on a cheap chip to sell it as a higher-tier SKU is the oldest tactic in the playbook. Other standard swindle techniques include pasting fake stickers on the IHS, slapping the IHS to vacant PCBs, or using laser etching to change the markings on the IHS.
There are many ways to spot a fake processor; however, the typical consumer doesn't check the product's authenticity.
In the Redditor's case, he bought the phony Core i9-13900K in April and evidently hasn't noticed that he was scammed until now. Depending on what he uses his system for, he may not have seen the performance difference between a Core i9-13900K and a Core i7-13700K. And sometimes, the fraud is so good that you need to check it with software, such as CPU-Z, to spot it.
The Core i9-13900K and Core i7-13700K have $599 and $419 MSRPs, respectively. The fraudster only receives a $180 profit from the operation, leading to a discussion among Redditors on the genuineness of the case. It would have made a lot more sense to swap a Pentium or Core i3 SKU for the Core i9-13900K. Nevertheless, other theories exist on how the bogus Core i9-13900K could have ended with the unlucky buyer. For example, the fake chip could have been a returned product that some other user had swapped to deceive Amazon. Or perhaps a dishonest employee was behind the whole sham.
The fact that you're buying a product from a big retailer, such as Amazon or Newegg, can sometimes give you a certain level of confidence. However, a lot happens between when you order a product and when it gets to you. If you're paying top dollar for a piece of PC hardware, it's always a good practice to validate that you're receiving what you're paying for. And just to be clear, this isn't a dig at any retailer.