Chip forging gang gets busted

US Federal officials have closed down VisionTech, a semiconductor reseller which is claimed to be responsible for the sale of thousands of counterfeit chips into industrial and military markets.

Although not well known outside the industry, ‘black topping’ is a technique whereby low-grade components are sanded down to remove the markings and then repainted with new markings claiming specifications – such as response times, radiation screening or longevity – that they simply do not have.

It’s a lucrative game – VisionTech’s particular swindle, which saw thousands of chips sent to military contractors, generated around $16 million in ill-gotten gains – but one which can leave lives at risk when re-manufactured consumer-grade components are used in medical, military or industrial systems.

For details on the case, along with methods of determining if a chip has been ‘black topped,’ VentureBeat has a great write-up.

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