Scammers are trying to take advantage of the latest wave of large-capacity USB memory sticks by selling fake devices with much lower memory than advertised.
According to the UK-based USBTrader.com (a trader in USB sticks, naturally), unscrupulous dealers are using a relatively simple "hack" to make smaller capacity devices appear to be higher value 64GB sticks, then selling them at seemingly bargain prices to online customers.
"This kind of con is nothing new," said Alan Dhillon Customer Service Manager from USBTrader.com, "Somebody always tries to take advantage of customers whenever a new technology arrives on the market, and the introduction of a new generation of massive capacity flash sticks has brought them out again.
"What is new is the relative ease that the scam can be achieved. With the huge capacity of these devices, it could be weeks or even months before the victim knows they've been duped. By then, the criminal is long gone."
The site explained how the fakes are produced: "They buy cheap, lower memory USB sticks and hack the device so when it is viewed on a computer, it appears to have a higher memory and sell it at a bargain price through internet shops and eBay. The victim only realises they have been scammed when the device is filled to its (much lower) capacity."
USBTrader.com’s Alan said that prices for genuine 64GB memory sticks start at around £25, so the scammers appeal to shoppers' eye for a bargain by offering their hacked devices for less than half the price.
"Many of these are fly-by-night merchants with low feedback and lower scruples," said Alan, "Once the negative feedback and complaints start rolling in, they close down that particular store front and start over again.
“By that time, they've probably sold hundreds of fake memory sticks."
USBTrader.com say the best defence is simply to do your homework and only buy from reputable dealers.
"Who do you trust with your technology budget? A long-established company such as ourselves with reams of positive testimonials, or somebody on eBay called xxzzyy4152?"