Buyer beware: scammers are selling useless Nvidia RTX 4090 graphics cards that can’t actually play games

Buyers of Nvidia’s RTX 4090 flagship GPU have been scammed in the past, and another victim of a graphics card sting has just been flagged up.

Hong Kong-based HKEPC reports (hat tip to VideoCardz) that a reader of the site purchased a second-hand RTX 4090 at a popular online marketplace (Carousell). The buyer found that the graphics card didn’t work – no fans spun up, and it appeared to be dead when installed in their PC.

Upon investigation, it was discovered that the graphics card was missing a rather crucial component – the GPU chip itself (oh, and some VRAM modules too).

The buyer was subsequently unable to contact the seller, and reported the matter to the police, but the authorities couldn’t do anything to trace the scammer (at least from what we can tell given the article translation, which is patchy).

The person reportedly paid 13,000 Hong Kong Dollars for the RTX 4090 which equates to around $1,700 in the US (or £1,300, AU$2,500).

At any rate, the point is clear: If an RTX 4090 being offered second-hand seems that it may be a bit too good to be true, it might indeed not be true (or an actual working graphics card).

Analysis: A matter of trust

The moral of the story here is really the obvious advice that you should only buy from a trusted seller. If you’re going to target a used GPU bargain, preferably get it from a known retailer, or at least an auction seller who has plenty of feedback and a good reputation.

Furthermore, there are times when it’s best to steer clear of the second-hand market entirely, for a period, such as when the crypto-mining bubble burst back in 2022.

The trouble with super-expensive graphics cards like the Nvidia RTX 4090 is that they are obvious juicy targets for scammers, seeing as their price tags are so colossal, even second-hand.

Recall the incident from late in 2022 where an RTX 4090 buyer picked up a used card – this time in the US, from a third-party marketplace seller on Newegg – which turned out to be just a 4090 box with lumps of metal in it (even worse than having a ghost of a graphics card).

In this case, the buyer did get their money back apparently, but still, the advice ‘caveat emptor’ (‘let the buyer beware’) most definitely applies when it comes to high-end graphics cards. Particularly when as is the case now, the RTX 4090 has been in much demand (due to the situation with it being banned in China, and the purported release of a new variant to get round those restrictions).

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