Last week, eagle-eyed customs officials in China noticed something fishy about a shipment of XFX GPUs coming in from Hong Kong. Authorities spotted that some of the GPUs had specification labels taped over previous labels. Upon closer inspection, the specs of the GPUs in the shipment didn’t match their actual specs. How these officials were able to determine this with the naked eye is unclear. Once the dust settled authorities had confiscated 5,840 graphics cards, a seizure worth about $3.15M USD more than the cards’ paperwork indicated.
The shipment was moving through the Huanggang Port, in Shenzen. It seems the GPUs were from Hong Kong on their way to the Chinese mainland. According to Videocardz, the Chinese Customs Office wrote on microblogging site Weibo that it noticed three GPUs with covered-up labels. After “sampling” the batch of GPUs the investigators discovered the apparent ruse. Using GPUs to mine for cryptocurrency is illegal in China, so perhaps that’s why the shipment of GPUs came under scrutiny. XFX, which is an AMD board partner and exclusively sells Radeon GPUs, is based in California, but has subsidiaries in China.
The reason for the bait-and-switch could be just a tax dodge. As we all know GPUs are an expensive item these days, so it wouldn’t be too far outside the realms of possibility. However, the website MyDrivers, which broke the story, has indicated there might be a more sinister explanation. According to Tom’s Hardware’s recounting, XFX has been accused of selling GPUs directly to miners before. After a period of time it would then take the card’s back and repackage them for sale to gamers. It’s unclear if they were intending to sell them as new GPUs, or simply refurbished. It does explain why a bunch of GPUs would have labels reapplied to their boxes though. What it doesn’t explain is why the specs would be mismatched. Also, are miners really selling their GPUs?
According to reports both the website for XFX in China and its shopping portal were offline following the seizure. This could indicate authorities are digging deeper into the situation to see if its more than just careless mislabeling. Authorities did not say whether or not XFX was directly involved in the shipment. Though it’s based on CA, XFX is owned by Hong Kong-based Pine Technology Holdings Limited.