Introduction: Don't Fall for the Flash Drive Scam!

Picture of Don't Fall for the Flash Drive Scam!

Hey Guys- I recently became aware of a major scam on eBay. Hackers in China are selling flash drives with less memory than they advertise. Users like PikesPeakTraders sell thousands of 'hacked' flash drives from China. The problem is that the hackers change a log file that makes the flash drive think it has more memory than it does. When you receive the drive, if you right click and go to properties it will display a larger amount of memory than it really has- so when you put data on it that exceeds it's actual memory, old data will be deleted.

This problem is nearly impossibly for the average Joe to detect because the flash drive looks and works normally- until it's memory is filled.

Here's how to protect yourself from this scam:

Step 1: How to Buy

Picture of How to Buy

So you want to get a nice, high capacity flash drive for a friend for the holidays. Here are a few cardinal rules to follow to avoid getting scammed:
(if you've already bought an unbranded flash drive online, skip to the next step)

1) Buy a brand name flash drive
-Most brands are reliable in terms of storage. Most unbranded drives aren't

2) Know your product
-I was naive enough to think that many companies (including unbranded ones) are producing 16GB flash drives- I could be wrong, but I believe the only company selling one of that size is Corsair. This goes for any size...

3) Look on the packaging
-If the buyer shows a picture of the packaging, see whether the storage is printed directly onto the packaging, or if there's a sticker on it that has it. If it's printed on, it's more likely not to be a scam as that means the company probably hasn't tampered with it

-Ebay has been seemingly overrun by scam artists selling falsely listed items- avoid buying anything that's not a well-known brand name from Ebay at all costs!

Step 2: When It Arrives...

Picture of When It Arrives...

Once you've bought your flash drive, and it ships to you, it's a good idea to run a program that will test it's true memory capacity. Here's how:

1) Plug flash drive into computer and make sure it initializes normally
2) Download testdrive.exe and drag it into your C drive
3) Go to Start -> Run -> Type in 'cmd'
4) Note the drive letter that represents your flash drive and type 'c:\testdrive.exe (LETTER OF DRIVE HERE)' WITHOUT the brackets or quotes
5) Hit enter- the program will check how much space the drive thinks it has, and then attempt to fill that space.

If the program runs fine, congratulations! You have a normal working flash drive! However, if you get an error like the one in picture 2 below, the drive is falsely reporting it's space usage- return it and get a refund as soon as possible.

Step 3: Disputing With the Seller

If you're having trouble returning the product and you used Ebay, report the seller. Additionally, if they use SquareTrade, you can start a 'dispute' with the seller.

If you bought it from another website, you may have a harder time getting a refund... I might recommend reporting the business to (the Better Business Bureau) -they may be able to resolve the problems for you.

Thanks for reading- if you have any questions or comments, don't hesitate to post!


phil20 (author)2017-06-13

fraudulent seller - beware

his entire business on ebay as a registered business seller having an ebay shop is based on selling doctored flash drives.

I bought 2 x 2TB flash drives that had 8gb each on them

seller admitted in emails that they may not have storage advertised as they were not quality tested. In other words hes admitting hes conning people knowing fine well they are not 2TB or 1TB etc yet advertising such on ebay.

Hes in breach of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 yet ebay wont do shit and remove all these sellers from their system as they would loose too much profit from the sales of these goods. Ringing ebay for direction action is a bitch too as they make it difficult even to find their number.

Never buy from china

check their feedback, max sellers are normally china importers.
If they have a custom page, hmm another sign
If they have removed the report link, another sign
if they state uk distribution yet in contact info its a china address, another sign.

Prateekk37 (author)2016-12-09

i found this article on google

and they suggest me to buy wd.

how about that?

DavidD419 (author)2016-07-27

Fix the flash drive.

1. Open CMD
2. Open diskpart

3. select disk x

4. type clean and hit enter.

moris_zen made it! (author)2015-12-01

Here is another warning .

eBay supports Chinese scammers by not providing a refund for these fraud fake USB disk on keys. This is another example you should watch out for . The seller will try to partially refund you but will not fully refund . eBay will not allow you to post a feedback if you "reach an agreement" thus preventing you from warning others . eBay has a very short term look at only the money they gain from the sell without looking at the long term LOSS OF TRUST which they cause . I moved to Aliexpress as both eBay employees support these sellers and enable them to faultily advertise incorrect listing by posting items for very low prices reaching high ranking searches but only after entering the listing you notice it is a "multiple item listing" which contains a "plug" for 1$ and an iPhone for 200$ . eBay enable this and thus should and will loose a massive number of buyers who will never return . they are just too big to notice . Bad management .sell any stock you have . this company is on its way DOWN.

LesR5 (author)moris_zen2016-07-15

Perhaps things have changed.....

I bought a 1TB pen drive last week and found it wasn't the capacity as advertised. I sent an email to the seller, but got no reply. Before I had the chance to lodge a dispute, the seller had refunded my FULL payment back into my PayPal account: I can only assume that the seller thought "sod this - I don't need to be chased for fraud", so paid back instantly.

moris_zen (author)LesR52016-07-25

if it is too good to be true - it is fake!

JeevusC (author)2016-07-19 also offers a lot of this fraudulent merchandise.

I expected a scam, but there was no other way to prove I was right and a friend of mine wasn't than buying 2 thumb drives

So I ordered a 2 TB thumb drive USB 2.0 11 Euro, and a 1 TB USB 3.0 thumb drive 14 Euro to prove to him that it is simply impossible to get more than 32GB USB3.0 or 64 GB USB2.0 thumb drives under 10 Euros

2TB USB2.0 thumb drives are extremely unlikely to ever come off the assembly line... ever!! USB3.0C is fast becoming the new standard, "2TB USB2.0 drive" is its own red flag

Right now there are no 2TB thumb drives

Right now the only 1TB USB3.0 thumb drive is Kingston's DataTraveler HyperX Predator 3.0 ($+/-$700)

The only mini sized 2TB drive I could find was Samsung’s T3 Portable SSD it's only twice the size of a typical USB flash drive. Capacities start at 250GB +/-$120 From there they shoot up to 2TB +/-$750

So, anyone reading this, maybe $10 - $15 for 1 - 2TB is a bit "cheap"

I'd say buying a 128GB USB3.0 thumb drive for 40 Euros is as cheap as it'll get (Juli 2016). I can vouch for that price since I bought one 6 weeks ago, together with a 1TB 3.5 inch ext USB3.0 drive for 50 Euros (about the same size as an early SSD drive and about the same read/write speeds)

Well, you're all up to speed now in regard to current max. capacities and min. prices. Maybe staying away from aforementioned website would be a good idea also

rgerber1 (author)2016-04-23

i bought a 1 t usb thumbdrive from recently,, every time I try to install data on it ,, the thing says it is loading, and then when computer say it is finished nothing is there,, I have placed a few files on it, but no where close to 5 gig, let alone 1 T..... wish I had read this alot sooner,, didnt pay much so I am not out more than 10 bucks.

EvaM49 (author)rgerber12016-07-13

got the same problem

bought one from wish, was so excited a few files. the flash drive corrupted.

I had tried to fix the problem due to not knowing the dialect on their part. I am so screwed. anyho..tried online recovery but does not recognize the driver.

rgerber1 (author)EvaM492016-07-14

I didnt try anything online, just windows format,, then dragged a bunch of files over where it went for hours and then found nothing,,, the drive found my 24 ounce ball peen hammer,, I felt better after... good luck

rgerber1 (author)EvaM492016-07-14

I didnt try anything online, just windows format,, then dragged a bunch of files over where it went for hours and then found nothing,,, the drive found my 24 ounce ball peen hammer,, I felt better after... good luck

rgerber1 (author)EvaM492016-07-14

I didnt try anything online, just windows format,, then dragged a bunch of files over where it went for hours and then found nothing,,, the drive found my 24 ounce ball peen hammer,, I felt better after... good luck

moris_zen (author)2015-12-01

Just a clarification . The key below was advertised as 64GB yet testing it any data written over ~10GB was lost - all camera video and images will be lost forever. no way to "repair it"

DarthV2 (author)2015-10-17

I fell for this, it looks legit and all, except its actuall 7.2GB and 13MB/s Read Speed. Use this program to test purchased drives:

Sc0rpi0 (author)2015-10-05

Hi, I know these has been discussed a lot, but I learned today that these fake USB Sticks has advanced in fooling you. The right way to check if you have a fake USB Stick is, as mentioned, to fill it with a couple of big files, THEN disconnect the drive, wait a few seconds and reconnect it. Now check your files!
I bought two 128 GB, which real size only is 8 GB.

DanielB76 (author)2015-07-25

zorro3355 (author)2008-01-18

haha this is even funnier.darn scammers!

Scooter800m (author)zorro33552015-06-04

Did the scammers really just put a usb cord inside nothing else?

A good name (author)zorro33552008-08-27

Lol lol lol that's funny. I wish you could favourite comments.

Lithium Rain (author)A good name2008-10-31

You can. Get zachninme's comment script for greasemonkey.

Derin (author)Lithium Rain2009-07-02

You can't favorite them though.

Lithium Rain (author)Derin2009-07-02

Stalker much? :P Yeah that's true, you can't really favorite comments, although you can rate them with zach's script.

zorro3355 (author)zorro33552009-01-23

i already said that i found it on the internet so it's not mine

Rock Soldier (author)zorro33552009-01-19

Is that actually yours, or did you find a picture of it?

watermelonhead (author)zorro33552009-01-10

lol is this real?

emuman4evr (author)zorro33552008-08-20

It must be chinese.

zorro3355 (author)emuman4evr2008-08-22

common man .i a chinese too...

downgrade (author)zorro33552008-09-10

Too bad he wasn't joking or it might have been funny. Damn those people who say funny things but mean them in a mean serious way.

emuman4evr (author)zorro33552008-08-23

I have no problems with Chinese Americans but those governmental bigshots and manufacturer CEOs Chinese give it a bad name and also all those people pirating costing billions of dollars and the companies that make fake lower quality american products and sell them for the same prices and the Chinese military the drug dealers the american companies that go overseas for workers who get paids 11c a day costing millions of jobs back home the list goes on and on.... BTW thats not a flashdrive thats one of those USB WiFi connectors.

lager (author)zorro33552008-08-21

Lol! that was sad xD

tacopsp (author)zorro33552008-07-23

ha ha

Derin (author)zorro33552008-07-21


lopez8675 (author)zorro33552008-07-15

did u make that or buy it from china?

zorro3355 (author)lopez86752008-07-18

na found this on the internet

lopez8675 (author)zorro33552008-07-18


Presman (author)2007-12-30

I got Frauded by pikepeaktraders too. My 16GB drive only holds 1.9GB before it starts corrupting data. This is dangerous because you think your saving data but it is really corrupt. Keep in mind the drive are hacked so acts like it is 16GB so you won't know until it is tested. (Just wanted to reiterate)The testdrive.exe isn't downloading properly, here is on ebay is a test bat file and instructions

mrlunna13 (author)Presman2011-04-30

I know it has been more than 3 years since you posted the link, but thank you very much Presman. It helped me on checking my flash drive, I thought it was fake, but it is real! I guess eBay has a few honest sellers.

Scooter800m (author)mrlunna132015-06-04

You speak my language. There are honest sellers. You can get a 128 GB micro sd card with sd card adapter for 15 bucks. Legit. Don't know about how good the speed or lasting is as it is one of two but it is legit 128 GB drive. LOTS OF SPACE YAH.

account3r2 (author)Presman2010-12-04

just change file from XXXXXXXXXXXXXX.tmp to testdrive.exe it is like that because you usually cant put .bat, .exe, and others on the internet. ive downloaded from instructables before, and its always like that.

bbmak (author)2008-06-15

Wow Thank you so much. Currently, I am thinking about buy a 64G usb drive from ebay. I will reconsider about it before buying it.

eLeet (author)bbmak2008-06-16

No problem- I'd definitely reconsider it... Remember the rule of thumb in life- if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is ;)

collard41 (author)eLeet2008-09-27

32gb are fakes, so 64 is 100% fake

Scooter800m (author)collard412015-06-04

Only if you arew going to the wrong brands. Go to the correct brands and they will be those sizes with good quality.

Nyxius (author)collard412009-07-02

I own a 32 GB flash drive from micro is completely legit and I'm thinking about buying their 64 GB version. Large size flash drives have been around for a little while now, but were just to expensive.

Derin (author)collard412008-10-04

transcend makes 32 gig flash memory

eLeet (author)Derin2008-10-08

There actually is a 64gb model out and has been for several months- it just happens to cost a few grand :)

collard41 (author)eLeet2008-10-08

Toshiba Have a 128Gb hard drive, solid state, but this isnt a pen drive. it is for laptops like the macbook air.

wizard722 (author)eLeet2009-02-25

In this case it is more like the rule of thumb...drives...

ashannon1 (author)bbmak2011-10-18

you might want to invest in a 1 terabyte external harddrive from an electronics store, or Walmart, get sea-gate, or something simaler. somthing with a lifetime warranty. much more space than 64 gigs(936 gigs more), and it will be pretty much guaranteed to have that said amount, of space, if not, return it and get a different brand.

sokamiwohali (author)2012-01-11

Man it really sux that this wont work with windows 7...i ave an ATP Tough Drive that is really a 4 gb drive and properties is only showing that it has 1.89 gb should really be 3.89 gb available...

About This Instructable




Bio: I love looking at everything in new ways- whether it's a problem that needs an innovative solution, or a philosophy about life that I ... More »
More by eLeet:AWESOME Magic Trick! Two-Second Satisfaction!Don't fall for the Flash Drive Scam!Advanced Rubik's Cube Patterns
Add instructable to: