How to Identify a Falsified CoC

So you’ve found the legacy electronic component you need through an indirect source and you’re thrilled, especially since you’ve been told it comes with full traceability documents! Unfortunately, one of the tools unscrupulous sources use is to help peddle fake EEE parts is to alter and produce counterfeit certificates of conformance that give unwitting buyers a false sense of security. So how do you protect yourself?

Since we don’t believe in recreating the wheel if we don’t have to, we’re passing along some information published by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy in June of 2017 in section 5.5.1 of the "Counterfeit Materiel Process Guidebook."

The first checkpoint in the detection of counterfeit materiel is the inspection of all paperwork which accompanies the shipment.  Depending on the materiel, the documentation may include:  the shipment origin; special testing or screening certification; supplier authentication testing documentation; and date codes, lot codes, quantity, etcetera. Documentation should be closely examined to see if anything is missing or suspicious, as compared to previously received material (if applicable). 

[excerpt below]

Categories and indicators of counterfeit documentation include the following:

Altered Documents

  • Excessively faded or unclear or missing data
  • Use of correction fluid or correction tape
  • Type style, size or pitch change is evident
  • Data on a single line is locaed at different heights
  • Lines on forms are bent, broken or interrupted indicating data has been deleted or exchanged by “cut and paste”
  • Handwritten entries are on the same document where there is typed or preprinted data
  • Text on page ends abruptly and the number of pages conflicts with the transmittal

Signatures and Initials

  • Corrections are not properly lined-out, initialed and dated
  • Document is not signed or initialed when required
  • The name of the document approver, or title, cannot be determined.
  • Approvers name and signature do not match
  • Document has missing or illegible signature or initials


  • Technical data is inconsistent with code or standard requirements
  • Certification/test results are identical between all tested item, normal variation should be expected
  • Documentation Certificate of Conformance and Testing is not delivered as required on the purchase order, or is in an unusual format
  • Document is not traceable to the items procured
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