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How to Spot a Fake Security Camera?

Fake security cameras might be a valid way to improve the overall impression of the security level of a space, by implying the presence of more surveillance than there actually is. 

Whether you’re looking for ways to find one or you want to learn more about their shortcomings in advance of installing one, there’s a few giveaways that, with a little attention, reveal fake security cameras.

Here’s how to spot a fake security camera.

Four Key Ways to Detect Fake Security Cameras

IR Lights

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IR lights will be visible inside the lens of most real security cameras. These appear as small, dull red dots, signifying the use of motion detection in the camera.

They’re easier to spot if the lighting around the camera is diminished.
IR lights will rarely ever be visible in fake security cameras. If you peer into the lens, there may be no lights at all.

Fake security cameras with red lights are common, but not in the lens itself; a realistic looking security camera will usually have a red ‘on’ button somewhere on the hardware.
Credit: The Security Experts


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Most IP cameras used in home security utilize a single USB cable. Since USB cables are so common, you’ll easily notice anything out of the ordinary; the thickness, weight, and material used can be a strong indication of a fake cable, which will have no components inside of it. A real one will have a recognizable thickness and weight to it.Realistic looking security cameras usually don’t have obvious cables hanging out of them. Ordinarily, homeowners attempt to hide security camera cables in or along walls for the sake of aesthetics. Prominent cables, particularly multiple cables, can be an indication of a fake camera. The quality and weight of the cable will also be a dead giveaway, since it won’t have any component inside of it.
Credit: Digital David

Build Quality

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Real security cameras, particularly ones with recognizable branding (see below), will have a stronger build quality than fake cameras for security. A visual check will in many instances confirm this, but holding the camera will reveal better materials and more weight, since there’s virtually nothing inside of a fake camera.Visually, a fake security camera will ‘look’ cheap; poor quality plastics usually speak for themselves. Picking up the camera, you’ll notice it seems to weigh virtually nothing. This indicates that there’s no components inside the camera, other than potentially a fake light to give the impression of realism.
Credit: Andrew SME


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Virtually all security cameras available on the market will feature branding somewhere on the camera. This can either be the name of the camera in a distinct, oftentimes custom made font, or a logo. Even in the rare case that a camera doesn’t have obvious branding on it, you’ll still find the company name somewhere on it (the bottom, for instance). A complete absence of branding is highly indicative of a fake security camera.An absence of branding of any kind is a very strong indication that a security camera is fake. That’s why many fake security cameras available attempt to overcome this by including stickers to attach to the camera, or, less commonly, made-up branding on the camera itself. The latter is rare because the cost of manufacturing casing with branding on it is much higher than without. Branding is important to a real product; you’ll never find it confined to a sticker on an actual security camera, and in most cases, it’ll be very deliberate. If in doubt, Google the brand!

For the most part, paying attention to these four key aspects of the camera’s design will reveal with some certainty whether a camera is real or fake. 

But there is another method which may prove more useful if the camera is a particularly well-constructed fake: using your cell phone.

Can a Cell Phone Detect a Fake Camera?

Several useful apps are available for smartphones that claim to be able to detect hidden cameras. These work most commonly by using your phone’s camera to search for infrared lights, though some also use the device’s magnetic sensor to detect the presence of a camera. 

Either method will reveal whether a camera is fake if it fails to register that the camera being observed is, in fact, a camera.


How do you know if cameras are fake?

You can tell if a camera is fake if there is a distinct lack of IR lights, unhidden and weightless cables, a poor build quality using lightweight plastic, and an absence of legitimate branding (which will usually be limited to a simple sticker).

Do fake security cameras look real?

Some fake security cameras do indeed look real at first glance. Since the idea behind them is to ward off would-be intruders through the presence of CCTV, they work because, in theory, they discourage any further inspection. Naturally, if you can get up close, see the branding (or lack thereof) in detail, and are able to hold the camera to feel its weight, it’s more likely to reveal itself as a fake.

How to make a security camera look real?

Maintaining distance between onlookers and the camera itself is the key to realism. Mounting the camera high up on your home is a good way to achieve this. Further ways to improve realism include hiding the cable (as one would with a real camera).

Do fake security cameras have blinking red lights?

Many fake security cameras will feature blinking red lights to mimic the status light of a real security camera. IP cameras rarely feature a light that constantly blinks. If they feature a status light, it usually is steady, or may switch between green and red to communicate various status changes. 

What does a red blinking light mean on a security camera?

A red blinking light on a security camera can indicate that the camera is recording, but this will vary between models. Blinking red lights on IP cameras commonly means that the security camera is attempting to connect to a paired device, for instance.