Fake USB drive advertised as being 8TB
Fake USB drive advertised as being 8TB

Welcome to the perplexing world of e-commerce, where everything, including USB drives, is not as it seems. With Amazon being a prime (no pun intended) marketplace for tech gadgets, it’s disheartening yet critical to acknowledge the influx of fake USB drives. You’ll also see them pop up from time to time on eBay, Wish, Alibaba, smaller computer shops, and other marketplaces – touting 4TB, 8TB, 16TB, or more of storage for an unbelievable price. So, what’s up with these fake devices being sold by scammers? We cracked one open to find out.

Our Case Study

So for the purpose of this article we purchased a supposed “8TB USB drive” off of Amazon and hooked it up. In Windows we saw the full 8TB listed:

Fake 8TB USB Drive Autoplay
Fake 8TB USB Drive Autoplay

That means they re-programmed the internal storage to report this size to Windows. There are programs you can use that write data to drives to test how much actual capacity a drive can hold – and this one held about 64GB total before coming back as being “full”.

Next we cracked open the drive. This is what it looked like on the inside:

As you can see, most of the inside is just empty. This is because if this was truly an 8TB SSD it would be very large. Inside you’ll see a small memory card mounted upside down with no writing on it – that’s the scam device. When we broke it off we saw that it was just a 64GB memory card.

How Do The Scammers Get Away With This?

This is usually a fly by night scheme (or slightly longer) and it works because the scammers are banking on you not actually needing all the capacity until a later date. If you’re slowly using your external device, that nominal storage capacity you have access to will last you past your return date – so you won’t even know the drive is a fake until after the return window. A lot of these scammers will do this under different account names that open and shut after just a few months to avoid detection / suspension by the major marketplaces. It’s terrible but they’ve been getting away with it.

As you can see in the pictures, they’re also mounting the internal memory in such a way that you can’t see it until you break it off and ruin the device. This is obviously done on purpose to mask the crime.

Factors to Consider

Understanding the Anatomy of a Fake USB Drive

Fake USB drives are, essentially, misrepresented storage devices. They are listed with false capacity and performance specifications. Buyers, enticed by the seemingly colossal storage and low price tags, soon realize they’ve been hoodwinked when the drive fails to live up to its promises. Or even worse, the scammers are falsifying the firmware / capacity values being reported in Windows to show the amount of space advertised – when in fact the storage inside is only a tiny fraction of it.

Why are Fake USB Drives All Over Marketplaces?

Amazon and eBay’s extensive and open marketplace model is both a blessing and a curse. It enables a myriad of sellers to offer their products, boosting diversity and competitive pricing. However, this freedom also paves the way for unscrupulous sellers to peddle counterfeit goods, including USB drives, with little immediate repercussion.

Recognizing the Signs of Counterfeit USB Drives

Being a smart consumer means knowing how to spot the red flags. Here’s how to dodge the fakes:

  1. Inspect Seller Reviews: A plethora of negative reviews is a glaring signal. Prior buyers’ experiences can give invaluable insights into product authenticity.
  2. Analyze Product Details: Discrepancies in product specifications and reality are telltale signs. Scrutinize the listed information and compare it with the manufacturer’s official data.
  3. Beware of Unrealistic Pricing: If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Extremely low prices for high-capacity drives are often a bait used by sellers of counterfeit products.
  4. Verify Product Images: Counterfeit sellers often use generic or altered images. Look for clear, high-quality images that match the manufacturer’s design and branding.

Protecting Yourself from Fake USB Drives on Amazon

So, how do you sail smoothly in these turbulent Amazonian waters?

  1. Purchase from Reputable Sellers: Stick to well-known and established sellers or choose products that are fulfilled by Amazon. These products are stored, packed, and dispatched by Amazon, adding an extra layer of reliability.
  2. Use Amazon’s A-to-z Guarantee: This guarantee is your shield against counterfeit and defective products, offering recourse if the product doesn’t match its description.
  3. Keep an Eye on Product Warranty: Genuine products usually come with a manufacturer’s warranty. If a USB drive lacks warranty information or offers a suspiciously short warranty period, tread carefully.

Effects of Counterfeit Products on the Market

The proliferation of fake USB drives not only impacts consumers but also tarnishes the reputation of genuine sellers and manufacturers. It breeds distrust in the marketplace, with consumers becoming increasingly wary of purchasing tech products online. The longevity of e-commerce platforms depends on their ability to purge counterfeit products and protect consumer interests.

Final Thoughts

Amazon, with its vast assortment of products, is a treasure trove for tech enthusiasts. However, the presence of fake USB drives is a stark reminder to tread carefully. By staying informed, scrutinizing product details, and choosing reputable sellers, you can enjoy the benefits of online shopping without falling prey to counterfeit traps.

Remember, vigilance is your best companion in the expansive and sometimes murky world of online shopping. Be a savvy shopper, and may your tech acquisitions be genuine and your data secure!

Eric Chan

Hi! I’m Eric and I work on the knowledge base at GadgetMates.com.  You can see some of my writings about technology, cellphone repair, and computer repair here.

When I’m not writing about tech I’m playing with my dog or hanging out with my girlfriend.

Shoot me a message at ericchan@gadgetmates.com if you want to see a topic discussed or have a correction on something I’ve written.

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