Operation Thumbo

...An attempt to rid the scourge of fake/counterfeit/hacked USB thumb/flash drives.

[For Sellers]     [info on generic flash drives]    [Thumbo non-destructive test]

What They Are:

They appear to be regular USB thumb/flash drives, and report a large capacity but really only have a small capacity (and silently delete anything you store that exceeds the small capacity).

These 'Thumbo Drives' are not really fake (they do *something*), most are not exactly counterfeit (most are labelled as generic), and most hacked USB drives are real ones that are hacked to do something else. Hence 'thumbo' (rhymes with Dumbo, the beloved Disney character with impossibly large ears, as these drives claim to have impossibly large sizes).

If You Have Been Duped:

Did you receive one? If you bought it on eBay, first request a refund (select "I think the item is not genuine" or a similar option). Most likely, you will get your money back, and either keep the drive or get a free shipping label. Then, be sure to give the seller negative feedback (and do NOT remove it, no matter how much the seller begs). Removing negative feedback just helps make it easier for the seller to sell more of these. If the seller doesn't refund your money, open a dispute with eBay. You can also open up a dispute with PayPal and/or your credit card company if needed.

Why These Are Still Being Sold

The problem with these is that since they act like a real thumb drive, lots of people don't find out they are fake until it is too late. Some people buy them and don't use them for a long time. Some buy them, save files to them, and don't make sure the files saved properly. Others might buy a 128GB drive (with just 8GB of actual memory), save a 5GB movie, see that it works, and assume it is fine.

Those that do know that they are fake will often either do nothing ("it's not worth it to get $8 back"), or complain and get their money back, or leave negative feedback and revise it after the seller refunds their money.

To get rid of these, people need to test any USB flash drive they get, and immediately request a refund (and/or open a complaint, credit card chargeback, etc.) and then leave negative feedback. And eBay needs to get serious about it; for some reason, they at times have a hard time cracking down on fake goods.

How They Are Fraudulent

When you buy a counterfeit handbag or watch, you get a usable product, that is just of lower quality than expected (and many people buying counterfeits know or expect they are fake).

But, these thumb drives aren't just low quality: they intentionally delete your data! In order to claim a high amount of memory while really only having a low amount of memory, they are hacked so they will silently delete (not save) data.

Also, selling these may well violate federal and/or state computer crime laws. For example, 18 U.S. Code 1030 refers to accessing a computer and causing damage or loss. As a state example, Texas Penal Code Title 7 Chapter 33 Section makes it illegal to access a computer to alter, damage, or delete data without the effective consent of the owner.

For Law Enforcement:

I will happily voluntarily supply most data I have collected, including any and all information on any sellers who have NOT stopped after being requested (e.g. that are knowingly selling these). I will not, however, voluntarily supply details about any sellers who did stop after being requested (e.g. that may not have known what they were doing).

How You Can Help:

Do you want to help get rid of these drives for good? It isn't hard!

  • [1] Look for the best deal you can on a high capacity USB drive (typically on eBay), which is likely a 'Thumbo Drive',
  • [2] Buy it (paying with a credit card),
  • [3] Test it. If good, stop here (and congrats on a great deal!)
  • [4] If not good, follow the steps in the 'If you have been duped:' section above.
  • [5] If possible, E-mail the seller and Cc: me on the E-mail so I have proof the seller knows they are selling a fraudulent item.

Sellers of Fake Drives

This is a list of eBay sellers that I am aware have sold fake 'Thumbo Drives'. I treat them as 'innocent until proven guilty' -- I assume they were unaware they were selling a fraudulent product. So if you bought a USB drive from someone on this list, it is likely fake. But their presence on this list does not necessarily mean they did anything wrong.

eBay trademogulHas sold over 30,000 fake USB drives. Related to masterretailer.
eBay masterretailerHas sold over 4,000 fake USB drives. Related to trademogul.
eBay supplyhut
a/k/a zoomvalue
Has sold over 5,000 fake USB drives
eBay fzeroinestore
a/k/a cenn2010
a/k/a beautyzz2009
Has sold over 500 fake USB drives (fzeroinestore).
cenn2010 appears to be a huge Chinese company selling legitimate products, just dabbling in fake USB flash drives.
beautyzz2009 may not sell any fakes, but is part of the same company.
eBay martshippers
a/k/a tradify
a/k/a Pavadoo
Has sold over 1,000 (tradify) and 300 (martshippers) fake USB drives
eBay trentonhawk97Has sold over 100 fake USB drives
eBay discount-gift-depot-2016Has sold over 1,300 fake USB drives (along with many presumably legitimate products)
eBay everpremierHas sold over 50 fake USB drives.
rainbow_techHas sold dozens of fake USB drives. Appears to sell legitimate products, just dabbling in fake USB drives.

Sellers Knowingly Selling Fake Drives

This section is for sellers who I have clearly informed are selling fake USB flash drives, but yet continue selling them. Any member of law enforcement may feel free to contact me for further details on anyone listed here, and I will voluntarily supply any details I have.
eBay trademogulHas sold over 30,000 fake USB drives. Is aware they are fake.
(C) Copyright 2016 R. Scott Perry