Back in the day, when you wanted to buy a widget, you’d go directly to the store and make the purchase directly from a person standing at the counter and even have a chance to touch and feel it before you buy it.  Although there were still scams to be had, I’d like to think that they were less frequent.  Now, with the introduction of online purchases, it has become a hay day for less than reputable vendors to anonymously sell sub-par products knowing that they can easily and quickly close up shop and start a new one with a different name within seconds of being caught in the act.

So, what are we to do as consumers looking to purchase products online?  The first thing would be to stay close to known reputable vendors and to be observant and recognize that if it looks too good to be true, it is probably not true.

This leads me to the reason for this post.  I just observed an add on Amazon Canada for a 1TB USB Flash Drive selling of a price of $41.99.  This particularly sticks out when you see others selling for over $1000.

What most consumers don’t understand, in such a case, is that they are buying a real USB thumb drive, but only with 4 or 8GB of storage, but with the firmware tweaked to make it identify to the computer as 1TB.  The thumb drive will even work for a while until the point when the user exceeds the physical storage limits.  After that, the device tends to crash and the data stored on it will be lost and possibly not even recoverable by professional data recovery labs.

Frauds are not limited to fake usb thumb drives.   There have been many reported cases USB hard drives that are also mislabeled as several TB in capacity when they really only have a small USB thumb drive hidden inside the enclosure with a couple bolts glued inside to make it feel about the same weight as a real hard drive.

So, again, be extra diligent with your online purchases.  Better yet, go old school and get to know your local retailer and consider buying local.