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

About: 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 come up with. I love tinkering with stuff, and doing things that defy conve…

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

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...

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!