If you’ve searched for external SSDs on Amazon.nl You may have noticed something odd recently: mixed in with the 1TB and 2TB drives from brands like Samsung and SanDisk are a bunch of offerings for 16TB SSDs, usually around $100, and with surprisingly high user ratings. They are all scams, even if shipped by Amazon.
The edge confirmed that several fake 16 TB drives appeared on the first page of results for “external SSD” and that more than half of the results for “16 TB SSD” were fake – the rest were either 16 TB business hard drives, enclosures with multiple disks and one real 16 TB external drive, which costs $2,400 and includes two 8TB SSDs. While the best counterfeit had a rating of 3.6 stars, the next two were 4.8 and 4.2 respectively. How do such obvious fakes get such high ratings?
It’s the scam Hendrickson calls “review merging.” Consumer Reports to call to action “review hijack.” As Hendrickson explains, some third-party sellers take old listings and replace them with new items, leaving the reviews behind but changing everything else. A quick scan of a fake 16 TB drive showed five-star reviews for laptop chargers, basketball backpacks, stickers, screen protectors, Mardi Gras beads, and mouse pads. The sellers collect good reviews for cheap generic products, trade in a more expensive counterfeit, and then delete it as the bad reviews pile up.
Hendrickson says he reported the fake SSD to Amazon and is awaiting their response. While some listings became “unavailable” after Amazon linked them, some were still active. One was replaced by an entirely new product.
This is not a new trick. In 2019, an Amazon spokesperson told Consumer Reports they had spent more than $400 million in one year alone to address the problem. “Last year we prevented more than 13 million attempts to leave an inauthentic review and took action against more than five million bad actors who tried to manipulate reviews,” they said at the time.
And yet, almost four years later, it remains a problem.
“The old maxim remains true: if it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t true,” warns Hendrickson. “If you’re not sure, check the reviews carefully. Do they match the product? If not, then run.”