hp flash drive
Photo Credit: DraconianRain https://flic.kr/p/8w8YJs

A few weeks ago, a case came through Gillware’s doors related to a flash drive that was reading as 64GB in size, and yet would only save up to 8GB of data. After greater than 8GB had been written to the drive, it would just start overwriting other material.

As you probably guessed, the problem was that the drive was really only an 8GB drive, yet it had been programmed to read as 64 gigabytes.

This happens when someone wants to make a quick buck, so they alter the drive, post it on eBay as being a larger capacity than it actually is, and then sell it for a fraction of what comparably sized drives would go for.

The buyer thinks they are getting a great deal, say, a 256GB drive for $11. In fact, if you go check Amazon right now, you can probably even find “512GB flash drives” for around $11 too (not sure why $11 is the go-to price for these people). In reality, they’re probably spending too much on a much smaller drive, while the criminal makes a profit from the difference in cost between buying the small drive, altering it, and selling it at a marked-up price. Sometimes they don’t even alter it, the drive is just defective.

Why Do People Fall For It?

Falling victim to these kinds of scams happens fairly often because not only do people love to save money, but also the scammers can be pretty tricky in how they dress up the drives. Often times, the packaging is very similar to how regular packaging looks from name-brand companies, albeit with minor inconsistencies such as not stating the drive size on the package or slightly altering a logo.

The drives themselves can also look plausibly manufactured by a large organization. There are multiple types of people who make these fake drives, so depending on who you buy from is dependent upon what kind of quality you can expect.

In many cases, the drive is blatantly fake since the model being advertised isn’t even made at the capacity advertised. This seems obvious, but most people are not going to take the time to research the drive they are buying, especially if it’s only an $11 purchase. If a customer is not aware of the existence of false capacity flash drives, then they certainly won’t be inclined to research the flash drive much before buying it, let alone do something seemingly ridiculous like checking to make sure the model actually exists.

Buy From a Reputable Distributor

It’s tempting to look for deals on items like high capacity flash drives since they can get fairly expensive, but when there’s a decent chance you’ll be throwing $11 away for a defective drive, is it worth it? To err on the safe side, just don’t buy flash drives off websites like eBay or Alibaba.

If the price seems too good to be true, then it’s probably a fake. If the price seems fairly realistic, there’s a chance it’s real, but if you can pay roughly the same price for a product from a reputable distributor, then what’s the point?

Additionally, if you’re purchasing from a reseller, don’t give them a review until you actually test the product. Plenty of people give a review as soon as they receive the product, at which point more people will get scammed before the seller is blacklisted since they receive a good review.

On the subject of testing, one flash drive test tool that has receieved positive reviews is called “H2testw,” which can be downloaded on the page through that link. Remember, if you buy a flash drive from a reseller, always use some sort of tool to test it when you receive it. If it unfortunately ends up being a fake, don’t panic, get a refund if you can, and report the seller. Also, remember to have backups of all your critical data. That way, defective flash drives can’t hurt more than your pride.