RIP-OFF ALERT: As Christmas shoppers scour the web for bargains, one of most sought after items is being counterfeited at an alarming rate.

Bloomberg reports a recent search revealed nearly 18,000 fakes of the iPad and various Android tablets for sale online in a single day.

The problem with fakes is that they may look genuine, but they aren't nearly as reliable as the real thing and offer no warranty at all.

If you're interested in an iPad this Christmas, the key recommendation here is to buy it from an Apple store; a legitimate retail store that is an authorized Apple dealer; or from sites you know have been legit sources of goods for you in the past.

The biggest red flag with many of the fake iPads is the price. Apple normally will only do tiny discounts if any, such as allowing a $499 iPad to be sold for $449. But in many instances, the phonies are selling their knockoffs at less than half the $499 retail price. That's biggest tip-off for you.

Be wary and be careful out there.

Editor's note: This segment originally aired Nov. 7, 2011

Image of Clark Howard About the author: Clark Howard

Clark Howard is a consumer expert whose goal is to help you keep more of the money you make. His national radio show and website show you ways to put more money in your pocket, with advice you can trust. View More Articles

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