Beware of discounted smartphones that could be fake

If you need a replacement smartphone, but can't afford the $500 replacement cost, there's a cheaper alternative: turning to online sellers.

Many are offering iPhones and popular Android phones for half-price. But, it's easy to get burned by the cheaper phones.

Marco Renk thinks of himself as tech savvy, so when he spotted a Samsung Note on eBay at $150 off list price, he couldn't pass it up.

"I thought it looked just fine," he said.

He bought an unlocked phone from a seller with great eBay feedback, but when he started checking out his new purchase, Marco noticed it was smaller than it should be.

I started measuring the screen," he said. "It's 5.2 in., not 5.5."

And the bottom button seemed to be in the wrong spot.

"The space from the screen down to the bottom button, there is much less on the right than on the left one," he said.

And the pen for tapping the keyboard did not fit properly. A quick Google search alerted Marco to an epidemic of cheap knockoff Samsung phones from China being sold on Craigslist and eBay.

Reports say the phones may work, but have less storage, slower speeds and washed out displays.

Marco contacted the seller, who denied the phone was a fake. And eBay slammed the door on him, saying it cannot help, as there is no proof that the phone wasn't swapped out by Marco.

So all Marco can do now is warn others – a discount smartphone from an unknown source could turn out to be an expensive paperweight.

It all comes down to checking out the seller. Don't buy from someone, or a company, you have never heard of who does not have great feedback on eBay or Amazon.

That way, you don't waste your money.

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