Amazon sells 2 Terabyte (2000 GB) USB drives for prices as low as $19.97. The drives are obviously fake and tech savvy users will easily understand the price is impossible, but the average Joe might buy them and lose their money. Even worse, they might suffer from data loss, as the OS falsely reports the drives have a capacity of 2TB.
The German website Heise.de reports about the scam it found on Amazon.de. However, also Amazon.com lists USB drives with 2TB of capacity for an incredible low price. They sell from suppliers in China, Thailand, Canada and the United States.
While it might be widely known that Amazon suppliers sell fake smartphone chargers and cables, these often at least work. Heise warns that the fake USB drives have another risk. The drives often use the FAT32 file system and combined with a modified firmware it’s possible to make the drives appear to falsely report they have a 2TB capacity, while in reality they can hold only 0.5% of that number.
Using the software H2testw it’s possible to scan the entire drive and find out how much capacity it really has. Because most of the fake 2TB USB drives use the USB 2.0 interface it can take as much as 30 hours until the scan finishes.
Despite the actual much lower capacity, large files will appear to be successfully written. That’s possible because the drive will overwrite blocks several times. If there’s already valuable data on the drive, that means the data is completely lost. Because the blocks are overwritten multiple times, data can’t be recovered anymore.
Heise found that many of the fake drives have a capacity of no more than 8GB which sell for no more than $6 on Amazon. The Kingston DataTraveler 2TB, the only real 2TB usb stick we found on Amazon, sells at $1529,96. That drive is also much bigger because a capacity of 2TB currently requires to stack several NAND chips. The fake drives are even available in a mini-USB factor.
So not only the price should ring a bell, also the form-factor.
Heise adds that the fake drives are sold through Amazon’s Marketplace, where a consumer doesn’t buy from Amazon but from a third party supplier. It’s hard to distinct between regular Amazon sold products and products sold through Amazon Marketplace, where the latter has a big drawback.
The supplier might be from a different country with different laws. This can cause issues when you want to return fake drives, even when Amazon ships the item for the supplier.
Despite numerous articles on counterfeit and fake items on Amazon, the online retailer doesn’t seem to take the issue serious, so be warned!