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Third-party Walmart vendor found selling bogus 30TB SSDs

Caveat emptor: Folks searching for a good deal on a solid-state drive may have been jazzed to locate a generic 30TB M.2 external SSD for approximately $18 on Walmart’s website recently. However, the killer deal finished up being truly a scam product that didn’t hold anywhere near 30TB of data. Remember, “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

Current SSD prices range between about $50 to $100 per terabyte. When a security researcher, going by Ray [REDACTED] on Twitter, saw the advertised 30TB SSD on online retailer AliExpress for approximately $30, he was immediately suspicious. As an instant and easy project to instruct his son how exactly to analyze hardware, Ray bought a unit and tore it right down to see what it had been.

After checking the generic SDD housing, Ray had not been surprised to get it contained two SD cards held firm with hot glue. When connected to a USB port, Windows showed the external storage device as two 15TB drives. However, even that has been not accurate.

Board says HUB-TF2 and contains two glued down cards (trans flash? SD Cards?). pic.twitter.com/gKd84tXIXI

Ray [REDACTED] (@RayRedacted) August 25, 2022

As Ray explained in his lengthy thread, the scammers took two 512MB flash drives (or whatever they are able to find on the cheap) and modified the firmware to report each as 15TB. To greatly help obfuscate the ruse, the scammers slowed the bus to 0.48 gigabits per second rather than 5 Gbps. So anyone attempting to verify capacity utilizing a tool like H2Testw will see it requires 500 days to scan and verify the complete drive.

Furthermore, to increase suspicions so long as possible, the counterfeiters programmed the firmware to overwrite stored data every time a file exceeded the rest of the space for storage while keeping the directory intact. This sneaky trick would keep buyers thinking all was normal until they tried to load an overwritten file. And all of this assuming you may get the drive to just work at all.

H2Testw says it could test HALF the capability (15TB) in 250 days. Do we’ve enough time? pic.twitter.com/mRImhnjT7K

Ray [REDACTED] (@RayRedacted) August 25, 2022

This kind of scam is nothing new. Counterfeiters have already been selling cheap, high-capacity SD cards on Amazon for a long time that do a similar thing. The issue was prevalent soon after the Nintendo Switch release when users were searching for bargain-priced SD expansion cards to improve the measly storage of the Switch. The twist, in this instance, is they are now just taking these same scam flash drives and hiding them in a generic SSD housing.

Walmart learned of the bogus drive on Friday and removed the third-party seller’s product page by Monday.

Screen capture by Motherboard

“Thanks for trying and bringing this to your attention,” Walmart’s Director of Corporate Communications Robyn Babbitt told Motherboard. “Walmart includes a robust trust and safety program, which actively works to safeguard our customers and help ensure items are authentic. After reviewing this item, it’s been taken off our site.”

Walmart customers that fell for the scam weren’t amused. Multiple buyers warned others never to purchase the hard disk drive, pointing out how they got duped.

“USUALLY DO NOT BUY THIS this is a scam,” wrote one reviewer before Walmart took the page down. “Walmart should get smarter than to market products such as this. I thought I was investing in a 8 terabyte SSD drive, for $28, which little bit of garbage can not work, at all, shape or form. The product is really a scam, and Walmart ought to be ashamed of itself to market them.”

Ray initially found and bought the drive from AliExpress, that was charging a lot more compared to the Walmart vendor. Interestingly, all 13 reviews on the reseller’s site give it five stars and sing its praises. By publication, the bogus SSD continues to be on AliEspress for $32. Owner even advertises it as a marked-down item that always sells for $66.67.

Buyer beware, indeed.

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