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

Fake USB drives on marketplaces like Amazon and eBay have become a huge concern. These drives are advertised to have an astonishing amount of storage space at a very low price, which is too good to be true. And like everything that seems too good to be true, they are, in fact, too good to be true.

As Amazon allows third-party sellers to run free on their site and upload their own products, these listings have taken off like crazy. You’ll also see them all over eBay, Wish, Alibaba, and at smaller or less reputable shops. Most of the time the listings will be claiming to offer 4TB, 8TB, 16TB, or more of USB storage for a price that’s far below market (forget that those capacities don’t even exist yet). So how is this scam still happening and what exactly is in the device you’re getting? We cracked one open to find out.

How The Scam Works

Fake USB drives are programmed to look like they have huge storage capacities. You might even be able to store some files on them at first. But when you try to use more space, that’s when things break. Your data might become corrupted or the drive might become completely full & unusable.

Why This Matters

  • Losing Your Data: The big risk is you could lose important files if you trust them with your data.
  • Bad for Sellers: Fake products hurt honest sellers who offer real USB drives.
  • Damaging Trust: The more fake products there are, the less people trust marketplaces like Amazon and eBay.

How to Spot a Fake USB Drive

FeatureFake DriveReal Drive
PriceToo cheap to be trueMatches typical prices from trusted sellers
Storage CapacitySounds unbelievable (like having multiple terabytes for under $20)Realistic capacities for the price
ReviewsFew reviews or negative reviewsPlenty of positive reviews
Product imagesGeneric or look different from the real manufacturer’s picturesMatch the manufacturer’s branding and design

What To Do

  • Buy from trusted sources: Stick with well-known brands and retailers.
  • Do your research: Before buying, look into the offered capacity and compare prices.
  • Test your drive: After you buy it, run tests (tools like H2testw are available online) to check the real capacity and expose fakes.
  • Report fakes: If you find a fake, report it to the marketplace so they can take action.

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?

Be careful when buying external storage devices from unknown sellers, as some of them might be fake. Scammers usually sell fake devices with nominal storage capacity, and they usually work because the scammers are counting on you not to need all the capacity until a later date. If you’re slowly using the device, you might not notice that the storage capacity is fake until after the return window has passed. These scammers often use different account names that open and close after just a few months to avoid detection or suspension by the major marketplaces. This is a terrible practice, but unfortunately, 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

The Physical Drive

Fake USB drives are storage devices that have misrepresented specifications. They are falsely advertised with larger capacity and better performance than they can actually provide. Unfortunately, buyers who are attracted by the low prices and enormous storage capacity soon realize that they have been deceived when their drives fail to perform as promised. In some cases, the scammers even falsify the firmware or capacity values shown in Windows, making it appear as if the drive has the advertised capacity when in reality it only has a fraction of it.

These fake USB drives are commonly found in online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay unscrupulous sellers are able to post their own products (without much supervision).

How To Spot A Fake

As a smart consumer, it is important to know how to spot counterfeit USB drives. Here are some tips:

1. Check Seller Reviews – Negative reviews can be a sign that the seller is offering counterfeit products. You can learn a lot from the experiences of previous buyers.

2. Analyze Product Details – If there are inconsistencies between the product specifications and the actual product, it is likely a fake. Always scrutinize the listed information and compare it with the manufacturer’s official data.

3. Beware of Unrealistic Pricing – Extremely low prices for high-capacity drives are often bait used by sellers of counterfeit products. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.

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.

By following these tips, you can avoid falling prey to counterfeit USB drives and keep your data safe.

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