16GB Flash Memory Thumb Pen Stick eBay Bargains SOSFakeFlash Issues Warning

Posted on December 6, 2008 by

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FakeFlashNews has received an urgent communication warning against buying any bargain price 16GB flash drive pensticks on eBay. This warning is for unbranded flash USB drives mainly 16GB but also 32GB.

Interviewed by Techreporters, SOSFakeFlash, part of the FrankenFlash Project explains why they asked us to release a communication advising people not to buy:

Why are you asking people not to buy 16GB flash drives on eBay?

SOSFakeFlash:

We analyze incoming data from ebay members every few weeks. In the last 8 weeks we have noticed a disturbing trend. Fake flash sellers on eBay are scaling back from offering 32GB fakes to avoid detection. eBay appears to pay more attention to 32GB and 64GB flash drive listings now. They are realizing a seller can not offer a 32Gb drive or a 64GB drive for only $25 or $35 dollars. So eBay is more willing to pull such listings and investigate as it is obvious fraud.

To avoid being caught these sellers are either reconverting their existing fake USB drive stock to appear as 16GB drives or getting them reconverted from their suppliers. Obviously this is affecting their profit margins – you can’t make as much money selling a fake 16GB flash drive as you could for a 32GB. We’ve noticed they are making up for this by increasing the volume of listings in 16GB drives.

We are asking that people stay away from 16GB unbranded drives as the risk of purchasing a fake is too high. The risk is possibly as high as 99% at the moment.

What do you mean by reconverting existing fakes?

SOSFakeFlash:

If you have a USB drive with say, a 2GB real flash chip, with the right software you can reflash it pretend to be 4GB, 8GB, 16GB, 32GB. You get the idea.

The programming tools can do just about any size you select. We call that digitally altering a drive. So if 32GB is too hot to sell, all they have to do is rerun the program(s) and downgrade the fakeness size reported to the operating systems. Obviously any new batch of fakes will be programmed to show the new more acceptable size – 16GB

Just how serious is the 16GB fake flash drive problem on eBay?

SOSFakeFlash:

Very serious. Almost all the people currently reporting fakes to us, bought in the 16GB size. When we research the sellers and investigate their sales we see that they listed 1000’s over a very short period, usually 3 weeks. Then they stop to avoid detection. Any query on eBay for what the seller lists, suddenly shows no flash drives. The seller has polished his halo. The other reason they stop for a while is to see if they are being found out, they need to wait for the claim period to expire for the drives sold. If a lot of negative or neutrals appear in their feedback they will often switch their feedback to private, change their seller id name or deregister to block inspection of what they sold.

If they get burned, they will start using private auctions the next time around. Using a private auction on ebay for flash drives is an abuse of eBay’s intent for such auctions but it buys them time to unload the fakes before they eventually get caught. For victims of this kind of auction, it is much harder to realize they have purchased a counterfeit drive or find other victims. If they report to us, we can usually reconstruct the trail and gather evidence; we have a category for these sellers – devious.

So the 16GB fake flash drive problem on eBay is very serious. We don’t know for how long. But the data shows it is the current drive capacity being the most targeted and that it is escalating.

Do you have any photos of fake 16GB flash drives sold on eBay recently that you investigated?

SOSFakeFlash:

Certainly. We have 123 different model listings at the moment. 63 for active sellers. We’ve selected 12 for you, non branded 16GB fakes we investigate. There are a lot more so this is only a fraction:

337 465 495
555 570 616
676 725 743
755 781 793

Is it possible for people to buy real 16GB flash drives on eBay?

SOSFakeFlash:

Yes, but not likely for unbranded drives. The seller’s origin country is not an indication of whether it is safe or not safe to bid. The prices the drives are sold for are usually a dead give away. Sellers can’t sell below cost; they need to make a profit to stay in business. The wholesale manufacturing cost for a 16GB flash drive is approximately around $25 US, usually more. It depends on the quality of the drive and the chip(s) used. Mark up for profit also has to be considered.

We advise that people interested in buying a 16GB or 32GB drive take the time to do a little research about the true and fair market value for such drives. At best, you might get it about 10% to 20% cheaper on eBay. You aren’t going to get a real capacity 16GB drive at 50% less or 75% less then the real market prices. We’ve seen people win for prices as low at $12 dollars – amazing. And yes, these winners are soon knocking on our door for help. Some in shock from the data they lost, others feeling very foolish to have fallen for such a purchase at those prices.

Where can people go to see a list of 16GB flash drives that are fake on eBay?

SOSFakeFlash:

At our site. We have been so busy cataloguing fakes that we have not generated a new mug shot report showing all the drives we’ve found. We have another round of alerts to release shortly. Most likely we will be issuing another mugshot report in late December 2008. In the mean time all people have to do is type in the sellers name in the search box and see what comes up at the site.

With the holiday Period coming what does that mean for you at SOSFakeFlash?

SOSFakeFlash:

It means we can expect a lot of people reporting to us in early January 2009 for fake flash drives they bought on eBay. It also means that a lot of people will get a present that is deadly. A flash drive that will lose their data. What is so sad about this is the person who gives the gift had good intentions. It creates two victims instead of one, the person who gives the fake flash drive as a present and the person who receives it.

We at FakeFlashNews can only conclude now is not the time to bid or buy on a 16GB flash drive on eBay. It seems that trying to sort out the good sellers from the bad is an impossible task. With an escalation in dumping drives right now – your chances of getting a true capacity drive is pretty slim.

We agreed that the best option is to do research on a drive before bidding and also to stay away from unbranded drives. It seems that this is where the biggest problem is right now, unbranded drives. There is no real source of information to compare or research the drives against.

Take the warning from SOSFakeFlash – watch out for super bargains in 16GB drives. If it is too good to be true – watch out! Don’t become another victim of fake flash drives.

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