Sure-fire Identification of Fake Pen-Drives

· Counterfeit USB Device
Authors

It may not be easy to know if you have a counterfeit flash drive until it’s too late, but we have discovered a loop-hole, which if anyone else has done so, our search engine has not revealed the results – at least conveniently.

For this reason, we give this bit of advice, whether redundant or not, to save some individuals from a potentially needless heart-ache when purchasing a USB drive.

This writer lives in an environment with a very limited offer of  memory sticks. We are practically limited to two brands – of which Kingston®, or what is being passed off as such, is the most common.  Our finances do not allow us to check the other brand, and the method we would use, as described here, would quickly get us thrown out of the shops.  Cunning is advised!

The advice: open your eyes!  Here is a scan of a sticker on the back of the suspect packaging. Check the label carefully for what we show and explain below, about items “A” and “B”, marked in red.

Analysis of Sticker Data on Suspected Counterfeit Pen Drive

Sticker on a Back of a Package of a Suspected Fake Flash Drive

“A” shows a non-existant language.  Since the word “en” was in the previous line, we might ask ourselves, what it is doing in the next line with “Assembled”, a word which only exists in the English language, and is repeated here.  Bad French is suspected, but what it is, doesn’t really matter for our purposes.

The item marked “B” is the dead give-a-way. The purchaser is given a non-existant web address, even if it were decipherable.

You will see that the fine print (which we could hardly read with the aid of a 4-power maginfying glass), remains practically unreadable.  Moreover, all instances of the letter “i” are lacking, as are the slash and the dot. What it seems to say, is something like:

WWWKNG STONCOMASWNERFY TO DENTFY GENUNE KNGSTOM MEMORY PRODUCTS

We have asked ourselves – could this be the result of miniturizing the text too much?  Under the red line, framed in yellow, we have inset a copy of the same sticker reduced by 50%. Notice that the word “China” is about the size of the text of the line indicated at B, and, although not in bold, the letters are clearly readable. If necessary, click on the above image.

It must be concluded that we have been had – and that it is our own fault!

We have recently purchased a new product, authentic, we trust.  The sticker on the back had different text!  There were four languages, not three.

There have been other anomalies with this type of product purchased in our region.  After using for some time, they are no longer identified as belonging to the supposed maker, but in our specific case, (at times) to SKYMEDI.  One reference we could find to such a brand is that this is an Asian counterfeit coming distributed from somewhere out of South America.  The fake product which gave us reasons to write this article had 4 additional anomalies (to date): 1) it was never identified as a product made by the manufacturer indicated on the packaging, and on the body of the drive; 2) the specific model name on the package was not the same as the product name that the operating system showed us (one letter of difference); 3) of the supposed 32 Gigabyte capacity, less than 4 were available for successful writing without data corruption; and 4) the operating system kept showing spurious messages about this being a multi-volume device, which it was not.  The problems were not solved by a standard reformatting, it is hoped that a low-level format might have resolved the issues shown here.

Ten days after writing the above, it was concluded that not even a low-level format could eliminate the problem.  It was a 4-gigabyte device passed off as something having four times that capacity.

Keeping in mind all the above difficulties one might encounter, it is definitely advisable to buy with care.

Now, when the duped merchants (or crafty sellers) discover a(nother) that we are on to them, they may change their technique.

In the meantime, one suggestion we have for discreetly verifying product authenticity, is to enter shops with a decoy, younger, or better looking, who will be the “seeing-eye dog” for the interested party.   Ask the saleperson for the lowest-capacity device, unless that is what you want, in which case ask for the double the storage capacity.  Request the decoy, who would have been previously instructed to check the writing on the back of the package, if that is what is wanted.  The person should say “no” if found to be false.  Ask for the desired capacity, and the price.  Refuse the price; haggle, if you think it convenient.  At least, if you are going to buy a counterfeit product, don’t end up paying for the real thing!    And don’t expect a guarantee!  Better, hope that an honest merchant can be found in your area.

Our experience in buying what we hope was now an authentic device, nevertheless provided us with some confusion.  We were told to look for a certain symbol on the product, which might exist in newer models, but definitely not in what was purchased.  However, this time, the device complied with the on-line identification procedure given by the manufacturer.

© 2015, Paul Karl Moeller

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