Fighting flash fraud on Ebay

The authors of this blog want to elimnate flash fraud on Ebay

The fake flash problem

Beware of fake flash on ebay – especially from Hong Kong / China where most of the drives being sold are fake (small drives made to look like big ones). This blog is dedicated to the fight against the fraudsters who flood ebay with these drives.

Thousands of people have bought flash drives on Ebay which miss-report the drive’s capacity. These drives may seem to be 4GB, 8GB, 16GB, 32GB or even 64GB. The size of these drives is FAKE – in fact they are often 2GB or less. Most buyers don’t realise there is wrong with the drive they bought until months later when they run into trouble with lost files or corrupted files. We call these drives frankenflash because they have been programmed by fraudsters to fool you by showing a FALSE capacity.

I was one of the lucky ones – I saw something written by other ebayers before my flash drives arrived from Hong Kong so I knew what to do when they dropped through the letterbox. I tested them with the small free program h2testw and found all had been programmed in this way. I immediately asked for refunds and where sellers did not immediately refund me I opened paypal disputes and communicated with the sellers only through this.

DO NOT waste you time communicating with fake flash sellers other than through the dispute console! To do so just wastes your effort while your time to get a refund runs out!!

One of them was marked Kingston so it was counterfeit. The others were unbranded so were not counterfeit. The person who sold me a counterfeit refunded my money immediately. Fraudsters know they are likely to get hammered if they are caught selling counterfeit goods. When a drive is unbranded it is more difficult to deal with.

Sometimes the seller is innocent and has also been fooled – it may be the supplier they bought from who is the fraudster rather than the person selling the drive. Innocent sellers are likely to test their drives and refund money immediately. The guilty will wriggle, argue, offer partial refunds and use many other tactics to try and hang on to at least some of their ill gotten gains.

Written by fightflashfraud

November 24, 2008 at 2:19 PM

18 Responses

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  1. The situation has moved on a little since 2010:

    Today (2011) you need to look out for F A K E Kingston SSD’s, these are, or rather they are supposed to be replacements for the conventional hard drive, these are appearing in many modern small laptop and notebook computers and are steadily falling in price. However not to miss an opportunity the fraudsters are turning their attention to what looks like the next lucrative scam, F A K E SSD’s.

    Watch out for Kingston SSD’s on offer on eBay, check out the auction status, is it PRIVATE? if so the alarm bells should ring loudly, the item is either a fake or stolen B E W A R E ! !

    One example examined by a researcher contained a fake USB stick, and a large metal nut to give it weight

    Y O U – H A V E – B E E N – W A R N E D

    Micro

    September 4, 2011 at 7:14 AM

  2. I had my first encounter with a Sony 500GB USB Flash drive Yesterday. The owner told me he bught it from a friend who had just flown in for a short stay.

    It was research that led me to this site and realizing the drive was fake.

    Now I have to tell the owner that he was swindled of US$60.

    Glen

    October 3, 2010 at 1:17 PM

  3. Oh dear Mark,

    It is fairly certain you have landed with fakes – the two sites are on our “notorious” list – pretty well everything is fake. Worse – unlike on ebay where (partly because ebay owns paypal) there is some buyer protection there is virtually none on these sites.

    fightflashfraud

    July 2, 2010 at 6:36 AM

  4. Thanks for the reply.
    For those reading this thread, beware of Fake USB wholesellers on aliexpress.com or alibaba.com
    I purchased through aliexpress.com, it was my first purchase using them, so don’t know how their escrow service works.
    If there’s signature required, I will not sign ask for evidence to that fact that I did not sign and refuse to receive goods.
    If no signature is required I can test the USB sticks confirming authenticity or fake before demanding a refund.
    I paid via PayPal – not through credit card.
    Stay tuned…
    rgds,
    Mark.

    Mark

    July 2, 2010 at 6:30 AM

  5. Hi Mark,

    Some of the sites don’t release your money to the seller until you have signed for receipt of the goods so you may be able to stop the thing by refusing delivery. Without knowing exactly what you bought, where and from who it’s hard to say what your best course of action might be. You certainly shouldn’t sign for anything unless the flash drives pass h2testw – we’ve found that once your payment is with the seller getting a refund from the wholesaler is extremely difficult.

    It is (as you guessed) highly likely that any brand name flash drive bought from wholesalers in China (particularly those selling off certain sites which are stuffed with fraud) will be both counterfeit and fake capacity. If you paid by credit card and you challenge the sale immediately you may be able to do a chargeback.

    fightflashfraud

    July 2, 2010 at 5:50 AM

  6. Oh My God! I’ve got this sickening feeling after reading some of the info on this site. 😦

    I’ve just purchased a bulk order of USB Flash Drives yesterday from China with the intention of putting them on eBay and making a bit of extra cash. In trying to find info on the flash drives, I came across your site.

    What’s the bet they are counterfeit AND fake? I’m guessing pretty good. I think I’ve been had and feel like a fool.

    I’ve downloaded h2testw in readiness, ethically, I just can’t put them up for sale now…

    What are my options and how can I help?

    Thanks,
    Mark.
    Sydney, Australia.

    Mark

    July 2, 2010 at 3:10 AM

  7. Here is an example of just ONE of the sites in the far east that is causing the problems we have today with fake flash.

    http://memorydo.info/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=2

    Openly advertising on eBay, comes up as a sponsored link and guess what it uses the old ploy of mis-spelling the Kingston name to avoid easy detection.

    Remember the Kingstgon’s and Kignston’s ?

    Micro

    June 1, 2010 at 9:26 AM

  8. Everybody that either bought, or is intending to buy a flash drive product from eBay sellers should be very wary of fake products offered by not only intentional fraudulent sellers, but by un-knowing, seemingly innocent sellers too (this was a year Ago).

    Today the fight still goes on and more helpers are needed to get the message across. One good and very effective way to do this is to auction a popular fake item identical to one produced by a top manufacturer, for example Kingston.

    You MUST be selling an actual physical item, or you risk your ebay account and status if you just try to provide advice, or warnings, ebay do not like this one bit, and with an army of snoopers out to report you (unpaid of course, and probably fake sellers) you will soon find your listings removed.

    Now pardon me if give the impression that this looks like complicity on the part of eBay, but you must consider how much they (ebay) make out of listing and final value fees, so I cannot see them taking any serious action to stop this fake trade.

    So what can you do? Well IF you have brought a fake, are too honest to sell it on to some poor mug, then advertise it as a fake, a genuine fake. Take a look at some examples currently on eBay of how to catch the eyes of those that are most likely to fall for these fake scams, so to warn them, and still not fall foul of eBay’s rules.
    170482511346, 270575652764, 160428409422, 270576391477

    If you can submit similar auctions, even copy those examples, I’m sure the originators will not mind even a direct clone, you will after all be trying to help the cause, THEIR CAUSE…

    Micro

    May 10, 2010 at 9:34 AM

  9. Hi Nick,

    There are many fraudulent wholesalers on this site selling fake flash memory. We were very suspicious when we first noticed this site – immediate connotations from the site name, let alone what our investigations later revealed!

    There may be some genuine wholesalers on this site – but we have concluded they are in the minority. Anyone who bought here should not release payment to the supplier unless and until they have tested with h2tesw with satisfactory results.

    fightflashfraud

    January 6, 2010 at 6:53 PM

  10. I have bought a Usb flash memory from
    http://www.aliexpress.com/product-gs/276748184-Super-Talent-MS-128GB-128-GB-USB-Mini-Flash-Memory-Drive-free-shipping-wholesalers.html
    the drive is 100% fake and destroys all data. The capacity is only 4 GB but simulate az 127 GB with a very slow data transfer rate and empty directories.
    Dont be cheeted by this seller.

    Nick Pujan

    January 6, 2010 at 5:35 PM

  11. Hi Micro,

    As someone working with us on the frankeflash project (a worldwide alliance of ebay members who were victims of fake flash) you are aware around 90% of flash memory items on ebay are fakes that will corrupt data once the true (often very small) capacity is exceeded.

    It is impossible for the bloggers in the frankenflash project who run the fightflash blog and others reporting on suspect ebay activity to keep up with the scale of this fraud.

    Those behind the first blog in the frankenflash project (sosfakeflash) are finding that it is becoming difficult to even keep up with entering evidence of proven fraud in the database and issuing alerts.

    We need more help! Anyone reading this is probably a victim of fraud. Fight back!! If you have your own website or blog then write something about it and link to the sosfakeflash blog!

    fightflashfraud

    November 27, 2009 at 6:44 PM

  12. Told you so…!! See who just got as BIG FAT RED NEG?
    The Chickens have come home to roost!

    Selling FAKES hurts your trading status, NEGATIVES make customers think twice!

    Micro

    November 27, 2009 at 5:34 PM

  13. Here is another example of WHY this fraud continues when buyers are unaware of the extent of counterfeiting
    and are ill-informed of the facts from NOT reading the right web sites (i.e SOSFakeflash)

    Here we see a seller of beauty products with a fairly good record of trading, and a good level of positive feedback, diversifying into selling flash memory without fully checking the source and quality..

    premium*hair*extensions09 set up an auction for a
    NEW Kingston 128GB DataTraveler 200 USB Flash Drive item #370287714370

    This was obviously one of the fraudulent low capacity counterfeits from our familiar far eastern suppliers

    This was won by allmacsupplies a computer and IT sales company, who SHOULD have known better, been better informed (SOSfakeflash).

    Eventually (as expected) after getting a refund they posted this CRAZY feedback

    “Product arrived faulty, no quibble returns, excellent customer service 5*****”

    NO SIR, the product did NOT arrive faulty, it was a nasty FAKE, a COUNTERFEIT, it left the seller as such!

    This is TOTALLY WRONG!!! if the buyer has been better informed of the situation (SOSfakeflash) they would have left a –N E G A T I V E– feedback as a marker to all and especially the seller that selling FAKES gets you a BAD reputation, apart from the legal point of view of perpetrating FRAUD.

    Micro

    November 27, 2009 at 8:27 AM

  14. Hi Jay,
    We have never known ebay to remove listings for genuine flash memory items – the manufacturers have trouble enough getting them to remove the fakes!

    What were they? Do you have photos of the items? Did you test them with h2testw? Even though what you bought was from a retail that does not (in itself) mean that the items were genuine.

    Not many people are aware of it but big retailers in America and Denmark (and who knows where else?) inadvertantly sold fakes.

    The program h2testw only exists because a German computer magazine (of all people!) unknowingly gave away fake flash to it’s readers! They made up for their mistake by providing us all with this wonderful free program.

    We would be very interested to hear more from you – a member of our team will get in touch with you by email so that you can give details that you might not want published on a public site like this.

    We think your story might make an interesting article. Don’t be surprised if it takes a while for someone to email you – we are all up to the ears in things to do! In the meantime you can leave further comments that you don’t mind making public.

    fightflashfraud

    September 29, 2009 at 6:10 PM

  15. What puzzles me is, I listed some legit items that I purchased from a shop that went bankrupted. list them on ebay, only to be told that they were fake by ebay, even though I knew they weren’t.

    yet the ones that are REALLY FAKES are left to continue to be sold.

    What is the China/HK authorities doing, do people get their money back, etc etc.

    JAY

    September 29, 2009 at 5:50 PM

  16. yaya0331 Now Selling fake countefeit 32gb sdhc cards. They are just directory files that emulate 32gb of space. I saw a 240gb Counterfeit Sony microvault being sold this way in Shanghai this year.
    Ebay yaya0331 fake card scam counterfeit rip-off. I informated CA atty general of this before all these thousands of people get ripped off, ebay has done nothing among 4 emails and reports to them. Ebay is aiding & abbeting in sale of counterfeit good from lacking due dilligence in prevention of notified sellers.

    scwam

    July 20, 2009 at 5:37 AM

  17. I agree entirely James – it is the data loss danger rather than financial loss that motivated me to try to warn others about this plague. Data is important in my job and using a fake drive could be a disaster for me. Fortunately I was lucky enough to come across sosfakeflash before my fakes arrived.

    I was so thankful for that blog and wanted to help warn others – spread the word folks – James is absolutely right. Careers, businesses, and even lives are at stake here, not just money!

    fightflashfraud

    June 30, 2009 at 10:55 AM

  18. Folks, this more than just about being swindled.

    Thousands of these fake drives have been purchased on eBay and Amazon as graduation and birthday and gifts and party flavors and are landing in the unwary hands of those who jobs cannot tolerate data corrupted by one missing digit. When you walk past a hospital or construction site or industrial plant, someone there is plugging a flash drive into computers for precise medical and drug formula info or to feed instructions to heavy machinery or control a chemical plant or an aspect of our communications infrastructure. Maybe even computers aboard military aircraft and ships! This is an insidious blight that deserves FAR more attention by media and government than it has.

    Please write to your local TV station and political representative about this pernicious blight! The person you eventually help might be you! Would you want the doctor or med tech managing your mother in a hospital to be carrying a fake flash?

    James Greenidge
    Queens, NY

    James Greenidge

    June 30, 2009 at 10:18 AM


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