Privacy Blog

"Friends don’t let friends get spied on.' – Richard Stallman, President of the Free Software Foundation and longtime advocate of privacy in technology.

Beware the Flash Drive Scam

Did you see an advertisement for a flash drive with 1 terabyte of memory or some other large amount of storage selling for about $10? If so, don’t fall for the scam. It isn’t what it claims it is.

Hackers in China are listing flash drives for sale on eBay and elsewhere claiming the drives contain huge amounts of storage, 500 gigabytes, one terabyte, or even more. Prices are unbelievably low, typically $10 or so. There is but one problem: it is fake.

Hackers have discovered a method of altering the settings in the flash drive’s controller chip settings to report something that isn’t true. The controller chip settings normally report the capacity of the drive: 8 gigabyte or 16 gigabytes, or whatever true capacity the flash drive contains.

These altered flash drives will actually work normally under low usage, which is why they fool many buyers at first. But once their true (low) capacity is exceeded, they will start quietly corrupting your data. The files may look okay in their folders, but you’ll eventually discover most or all of your valuable data irretrievably gone.

To be sure, some manufacturers are now producing flash drives that really do store 1 terabyte of data but they are expensive. See Amazon at for one example of a real 1 terabyte flash drive that sells for $673.64. If the flash drive you see advertised has a price that seems too good to be true, it probably is.

For more information, go to Google and search on “eBay fake flash” (with the quote marks) to learn more about this scam.

Categories: Scams

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