Learning how to spot a fake security camera is simple once you know what to look for. We’ll cover the tell-tale signs to be on the lookout for. You’ll learn about the different types of fake security cameras and we’ll answer some of your burning questions.
By the end of our guide, you’ll be able to walk into any public space and know which cameras are real and which are not. You’ll be walking around with confidence and be able to impress your friends with your world-sense.
Let’s get into the guide!
How to Spot a Fake Security Camera and Never Be Fooled Again
In the first section, we’ll look at what a fake security camera is and how they work. Real security cameras and CCTV setups and expensive and require recurring payments.
Many small shops can’t afford them and many big malls and building cut expenses by using a mix of real and fake cameras.
Oftentimes, just the appearance of security and similar measures is enough to put somebody off doing something wrong.
From the perspective of privacy, not everybody likes to be on camera – I know I don’t like being watched. You’ll be able to find spots that are only monitored by fake security cameras where you can be confident there’s no-fly on the wall recording you.
Let’s dive in!
What are Fake Security Cameras?
Fake security cameras are designed to mimic everything a real security camera does – except that they are only decoys and don’t record or image anything. These fake cameras are also known as dummy cameras, decoy cameras, or simulated cameras.
Fake security cameras are often set up in high-traffic areas and are used alongside real security cameras (though not in the same spot). This gives the impression of thorough security and saves the building/homeowner/company a lot of money and installation costs.
Fake security cameras are essentially empty camera shells and can even be made from home – we’ll show you how a little later on.
How do Fake Security Cameras Work?
As we said above, they mimic the look of real security cameras, without having any internal functions, recording, or photographic ability.
These cameras are usually made from a mix of cheap and carefully painted materials that look identical to real cameras when seen at a distance.
Fake security cameras work by making you think that you’re being recorded and hopefully stopping people from doing something they shouldn’t.
Some fake security cameras go as far as having fake lighting and even movement to further fool people. These are usually more expensive and can be bought at many major retail stores.
It’s also common for decommissioned cameras that no longer work to be used as fake camera props. They look identical and will still hold up if you take a closer look.
Most people can’t tell the difference between real and fake security cameras as they don’t have any experience with real security cameras.
What are the Tell-Tale Signs of a Fake Security Camera?
There are some give-away features and signs that are common in fake security cameras. Bear in mind that manufacturers are getting smarter and are finding more subtle ways to trick you.
Let’s look at some of the common features of fake security cameras.
Bright and Obvious LED Lights
Real security cameras that have night vision use LED lights for poor lighting conditions. These aren’t your standard LED lights and they are there to help the infrared sensors detect enough light.
Fake security cameras use standard LED lights and not the high-tech ones in their genuine counterparts. This means the fake camera’s LED lights will flash overtly bright and try to draw attention. They’ll most likely run during the day too as they’ll be battery powered.
Cheap and Reflective Material
Fake security cameras will often be made from cheap plastic materials. Real cameras on the other hand are usually encased in higher-end matte finish metal.
You’ll notice that fake cameras are reflective and look cheap and flimsy. Real cameras tend to take a subtler approach and don’t want to be too reflective.
Choice of Location
Due to the cheaper build, fake cameras aren’t able to handle the outdoors. You’ll very seldom find fake cameras in direct sunlight or places exposed to the elements.
Real security cameras can handle outdoor conditions.
Branding and Other Markings
If you can read the branding on the camera, a quick online search will show you more information about the camera. If you’re able to take a closer look, try to note the model number.
Some fake cameras put their brand names on the shell and it’s a dead giveaway. Some are sneakier and use fake brand names. If you search up the model number and brand, you’ll find everything you need about the camera.
Wires and Cables
Newer real security cameras use a single cable. Older genuine cameras will have two cables. They are pretty thick and placed in an area that’s very hard to reach. The cables might even be secured in a shell or go directly through the wall. This is because they don’t want anyone to tamper with them.
Some fake cameras will often have a single wire that’s a little on the thin side. The cable won’t have protective casing (as that would increase the money and time cost) and often won’t go through holes drilled in the wall.
These are just a couple of the most reliable signs of fake security cameras. There are others, but they’re driven by experience and you’ll need to have a little experience with real security cameras to know what to look for.
P.S. If you want to know data-backed research suggests are the best locations for home security cameras are, here’s an excellent article to read.
What are the Different Types of Common Fake Security Cameras?
Most fake security cameras either come is the dome shape or bullet shape. These are the most common to find at major retailers and are the easiest to fake.
Wireless security cameras are the hardest to fake as they use difficult-to-copy manufacturing and shaping.
Here are some of the most common fake security cameras:
Fake Security Cameras Wal-Mart Sells
Wal-Mart sells some pretty cheap and convincing fake security cameras. The most popular is the indoor/outdoor bullet security camera. There is no brand name on it and only CCD Camera is written on the side.
You can tell this camera is a fake by the brightness of the LED lights and the lack of infrared lights. There is a warning light, but it’s not triggered by anything and will go off at random times.
They also sell fake dome security cameras. It’s a 2-piece set and they’re very reflective and the red flashing light doesn’t match what the real dome cameras do. You’ll notice the red blinking light is very pronounced and is highly visible at night.
Dummy Arlo Camera Models
These are used to protect and deter people from damaging real Arlo setups (they’re expensive). They look very similar, but the color is off and they have a very plastic look to them.
The same CCD Camera writing is on the side, which is another dead giveaway.
You won’t see the cable as it “disappears into the wall mount”.
How to Make a Fake Security Camera at Home
Here’s how you can build a fake cardboard security camera DIY at home. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Cardboard and long cardboard tubing
- Black and grey paint
- Silicon gun
- Glue gun
- Ruler (30cm minimum)
- Some random cabling
- Masking tape
Follow these steps to build the fake camera:
- Cut out four 2×4 inch rectangles from the cardboard
- Cut out two 2×2 inch squares from the cardboard
- Use the hot glue gun to assemble them into a rectangular box (wipe away excess glue on the outside)
- Cut a 2” piece off the cardboard tube and glue it to the front of the camera box
- Glue a 2-4” piece of cardboard tubing to the top of the camera (for the wall stand) at an angle (similar to most bullet security cameras)
- Glue four evenly cut cardboard strips to the tube (wall stand) to make a box around the wall stand tube
- Use some plaster to cover all the seams and edges of the camera box
Leave the plaster to dry and move on to the following steps:
- Use sandpaper to smooth and even out the plastering
- Cover any remaining seams and breaks with masking tape
- Paint the main camera box grey or greenish-grey
- Paint the lens and stand black
- Add your finishing details to the paint and let it dry
- Attach the cabling from the camera box to the wall mount
You’re done! Now attach it to the wall and admire your craftsmanship.
You should be able to quickly identify a fake security camera using the tips we’ve given you. If you want a fun DIY project to involve your kids in, then make a security camera at home with them.
Now that you know how to spot a fake security camera, try to see how many you can spot the next time you go out shopping!