Shoppers are being warned to be wary of items on Amazon that claim to show 16TB portable storage drives for $100 or less.
With his suspicions raised by the low price and obscurely named companies that sold the devices, Review Geek editor-in-chief Josh Hendrickson decided to take a closer look.
Sure enough, after purchasing one of the listed devices and opening it up, Hendrickson found that it was actually nothing more than a 64GB micro SD card slotted into a circuit board.
But Hendrickson noticed that the maker had made it hard for a customer to spot, as his Windows computer showed it as a 16TB drive, a trick likely performed by the board’s firmware.
The product reviews, too, have been tampered with to make the drives look more appealing. At first glance, the overall ratings for these devices look pretty solid, with many showing around four-and-a-half stars. But they’re for other products, not the drive.
This is known as a “review merging scam,” where a product is removed from a listing and replaced with another one, while the original reviews stay in place. That’s why, among the reviews for the drive, you find comments on other items such as steering wheel covers, pillow covers, and ornaments.
The listings also show “shipped by Amazon” in another bid to lull shoppers into a false sense of security.
Hendrickson contacted Amazon for comment and to let it know about the scam. In a statement, the e-commerce giant said that it does not allow “product listings to be taken over or incorrect information to be listed, and we have zero tolerance for fake reviews.”
It added: “We have clear policies that prohibit reviews abuse, and we suspend, ban, and take legal action against those who violate these policies and remove inauthentic reviews. The items in question did violate our policies and they have been removed.”
In the last couple of days, some of the listings have reportedly disappeared, but their reappearance elsewhere on the site suggests Amazon faces an endless game of whack-a-mole.
Shoppers, meanwhile, will need to have their wits about them to avoid falling for the scam. The advice is that if a product’s price looks too good to be true, then steer clear. Beyond that, be sure to research the company if you don’t recognize it, and to read the reviews carefully.
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