Online retailers that host third-party sellers, such as Amazon and Walmart, have wide selections of electronics at competitive prices. But for years, they’ve also been a playground for fraudulent sellers, who list products with inflated or deceptive performance claims. Even worse, some of these products pose a physical threat to customers.
The problem has become so widespread that by the end of this month, the federal government will require online retailers to do a much better job of vetting seller credentials through the Integrity, Notification, and Fairness of Online Retail Markets to Consumers (INFORM CONSUMERS). l. But the scammers are persistent, and workarounds seem inevitable. So what more should we ask of these giant retailers, and what can shoppers, including the less tech-savvy, do to take matters into their own hands?
To paint a picture of how deceptive technology can spread across the Internet, imagine you’re in the market for a spacious, portable SSD. You can finally get to Walmart.com, where a 60TB drive retails for under $39. The only downside? It’s clearly not a real 60TB SSD.
In fact, even a 2TB portable SSD will run you triple digits. But for years, this scam has been rife in popular online marketplaces. Review Geek recently revealed that the scheme involves selling much less capacity micro sd card rather than a large capacity SSD (The site got a 64GB card instead of the advertised 16TB SSD).
Fake SSDs are just one example of fake tech scams on large online retailers. Consumers also have to look out for counterfeit Apple chargers, cables that do not meet advertised specifications, and counterfeit batteries that threaten serious physical harm.
Despite their great resources, these marketplaces fail to properly screen the vendors and their products. Without external pressure, shoppers will continue to pay the price.
Imitation goods are not just products that use the brand name of an established company, such as a fake Gucci handbag. Also include items that are similar Likes Branded products without using their names or logos. The gallery below shows examples of the latter. The $34 16TB SSD and $26 4TB SSD don’t say “Samsung” but nonetheless look similar to Samsung’s popular T7 portable hard drives.
On Walmart.com, you can find fake listings for a 4TB portable hard drive for $26, a 12TB model for $39, a 16TB drive for $34, or even a 25TB version for $39 (we’re linking these products to For illustrative purposes – please do not purchase). When I reached out to Walmart about similar listings, they removed it. But I didn’t ask the company about the above listings, and they are still active as of this writing.
I didn’t even have to dig deep to find these listings. Some of the above SSD vendors have good ratings, but it’s not clear how important that is. As of the time of this post, “Shangyoulinxinshengtainongyefazhanyouxiangongsi” is listed as a Walmart Pro seller, though the average review is only 1.5 stars.
Walmart’s website, like Amazon’s, also places a more prominent emphasis on the seller’s purported product branding, listed at the bottom of the page and in smaller font.
Here’s the kicker. Two of the fake SSD listings linked above have sellers with eerily similar names – Joybuy and JoyBuy Selection – and identical logos: