Hong Kong RTX 4090 buyer shocked as purchase lacked GPU and VRAM

MSI GeForce RTX 4090 with missing components
(Image credit: HKEPC)

A Hong Kong-based PC enthusiast got much less than he bargained for when he bought a used MSI GeForce RTX 4090 card earlier this month. HKEPC reports that one of its readers bought the card for HK$13,000 ($1,660) only to find it was missing its GPU and several VRAM chips. The buyer, Mr Hong, says that the local police weren’t very interested in his plight, so he shared his experience with HKEPC as a cautionary tale.

The RTX 4090 sting was executed via the Carousell online second-hand market place, with the exchange of goods and money taking place in person. Mr Hong saw the second-hand MSI GeForce RTX 4090 card on Carousell and thought he was being careful when he requested a transaction in person. He arranged to meet the seller near a train station and noted the product he received in the handover looked just like the one in the second-hand listing's photos.

At home, Hong installed the card and must have felt some relief when the graphics card’s ARGB lighting fired up – looking just like the product listed on Carousell. However, his post-purchase experience would quickly turn sour, as he noticed the fans didn’t spin up as expected, and no graphical output could be cajoled from the card. The RTX 4090 scam victim’s next step was to take the expensive non-working card to a local repairer. It didn’t take long to discover the RTX 4090’s GPU was missing, and several of the VRAM chips had been removed too.

(Image credit: HKEPC)

From the machine translation of the HKEPC report, it is hard to understand why Mr Hong now feels he has no way to get his money back or find any justice. The report seems to suggest that any second-hand transaction between two parties is hard to pursue, and Mr Hong could no longer contact the seller, so the case wouldn’t be passed to the Hong Kong Criminal Investigation Department (CID).

Hong, and HKEPC, end their report with a solemn message, asking everyone to be careful when buying a second-hand card from Carousell. The same wise words are probably just as applicable worldwide with market style online marketplaces which provide little or no buyer / seller protections.

Of course, GeForce RTX 4090 graphics cards are even more highly prized in China now, due to the adjustments in US sanctions. So losing the money on this fake must have been a bitter pill to swallow.

Be careful out there

Buying from highly reputable sellers isn’t always a guarantee of getting genuine as-described products, though. We have previously reported on some eyebrow-raising examples of online purchases going very badly even with big-name online retailers involved. In 2022, someone had a pretty bad experience with a Newegg purchased Gigabyte GeForce RTX 4090 graphics card – receiving metal blocks instead. Earlier in the same year, the firm came under fire for its open-box motherboard and CPU returns.

As recently as December 2023, we also felt compelled to highlight the fact that AMD Radeon RX 7000 series GPU scams were a persistent problem on Amazon. Online buyers have to be really careful wherever they decide to shop and take precautions with their judgment and communications. For big-ticket items, it might also be worth recording events like receiving parcels and unboxing them.

Mark Tyson
Freelance News Writer

Mark Tyson is a Freelance News Writer at Tom's Hardware US. He enjoys covering the full breadth of PC tech; from business and semiconductor design to products approaching the edge of reason.

  • gg83
    Age old lesson, if it seems too good to be true... it is too good to be true.
    Reply
  • PEnns
    A "local repairer" should be the one who advises such buyers if the card is worth buying or not.

    Paying a small fee definitely beats losing $1600 to such imbeciles.
    Reply
  • YouFilthyHippo
    My first question here is: Why? Why would someone remove a bunch of components, put the GPU back together and then resell it? This makes no sense
    Reply
  • Eximo
    People sell empty CPU/GPU boxes on ebay. Usually quite clear about it, but it makes you wonder.
    Reply
  • txfeinbergs
    gg83 said:
    Age old lesson, if it seems too good to be true... it is too good to be true.
    How exactly does that apply here? He paid pretty much full price for it.
    Reply
  • HaninTH
    txfeinbergs said:
    How exactly does that apply here? He paid pretty much full price for it.
    Because it should have been 2x+ the cost or more as these are in ultra high demand in the run up to the complete ban there.
    Reply
  • hotaru251
    YouFilthyHippo said:
    This makes no sense
    it makes perfect sense.

    You forget the Chinese market is incredibly big on reusing tech. They will remove vram, gpu to transplant to a different board (or even frankencards).

    Theres an entire industry about salvaging parts from gpu's.

    pro tip: always ask to see the gpu running (in person) before making a transaction. If they refuse you know its a scam.
    Reply
  • Tonet666
    YouFilthyHippo said:
    My first question here is: Why? Why would someone remove a bunch of components, put the GPU back together and then resell it? This makes no sense
    I think that can be sold as parts GPU chip/VRam only if someone need a new core for their card if the original one is dead.
    Reply
  • JTWrenn
    Damn...that's one hell of a downgrade to meet sanctions. /s just in case
    Reply
  • drtweak
    Comon. You always check the goods before you hand over the money!!
    Reply