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Repairman Steals Hard Drive And Charges To Reinstall It 181

Posted by samzenpus
from the new-geek-squad-terms-of-service dept.
Phase 1: Break into a realty office, and steal a computer hard drive.

Phase 2: Ask if they will pay you $50 to fix the computer.

Phase 3: Get charged with theft and receiving stolen property!

*

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Repairman Steals Hard Drive And Charges To Reinstall It

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  • "So, uh, I heard your computer wouldn't start because it's missing a hard drive. This is very common in our neighborhood. You're lucky though, I happen to be fully bonded and certified at returning computers without hard drives to their normal working states ... "

    Michael Scott could see through that.
    • by sakdoctor (1087155) on Thursday May 07, 2009 @02:56PM (#27864609) Homepage

      Quantum RAID with drive level parity.

      Allows you to recover from the complete disappearance of your drive, and any new drive you choose to buy, will have all your data on it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by lymond01 (314120)

        Quantum RAID with drive level parity.

        Allows you to recover from the complete disappearance of your drive, and any new drive you choose to buy, will have all your data on it.

        The catch, you ask? You won't be certain your data is there until you look...

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          >The catch, you ask? You won't be certain your data is there until you look...

          Also known an Schroedinger disk.

      • Quantum RAID with drive level parity.

        Great -- except that now they'll take all the drives, not just the one.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Police then discovered Lutes' car, with a computer repair sticker on the door, was seen parked in front of the office on the night of the break-in.

      Reminds me of that fantastic Christopher Walken quote from True Romance [imdb.com].

      Cocotti: They snatched my narcotics, and high-tailed it outta there. They would've got away with it, but your son, f**khead that he is, left HIS DRIVER'S LICENSE in the dead guy's hand.

    • by A. B3ttik (1344591) on Thursday May 07, 2009 @05:05PM (#27867023)
      A girl in my dormitory dropped her computer and destroyed her hard drive. Being the CS guru that I am, I assured her I could fix it... sans harddrive. She had already sent the Harddrive back to the manufacturer. There was now a gaping hole in the bottom of her laptop where her harddrive used to be. I told her I could STILL get it to work.

      "But there's no harddrive!"
      "Don't worry, I can fix it."

      So I take her USB drive, load DAMN SMALL LINUX on it, plug it into her computer, and voila! You should have seen the look on her face when I booted up Mozilla and had Facebook running on a computer without a harddrive.
      The media likes to portray us geeks as sorcerers, and sometimes, you can see why.

      She's back on the internet, she's got webmail, she's got facebook, she's got text editors, she's got practically everything she needs for school. (Naturally, I ask her if she's doing anything later, and of course she's 'busy.' Oh well.)
    • I'd bet that a lot of people wouldn't know the hard drive is missing.

      Victim: "My computer won't start. I turn it on and the screen is black and it says 'No boot disk found.' Can you fix it?" (The average layperson doesn't know what that error message means, remember.)

      Crook: "Sure, but it will take me about a week. I'll throw in a discount for you, too - just $50/hr instead of $100/hr."

      Michael Scott would probably fall for that one.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Arancaytar (966377)

      Say, that's a nice hard drive you got there.

      Be a shame if something happened to it.

  • Summary error... (Score:5, Informative)

    by SCPRedMage (838040) on Thursday May 07, 2009 @02:41PM (#27864363)
    He charged $50 an hour. For 40 hours of "work".
    • by hurfy (735314)

      Hey, there were THREE lines in the summary...at least one was bound to be wrong......

  • by Morphine007 (207082) on Thursday May 07, 2009 @02:42PM (#27864377)

    ... they tell you that they can retrieve the files that you had on the hard-drive that was just stolen from your office.

    /facepalm

    • by HTH NE1 (675604)

      And without coming up with some technobabble that the data was still present in the interface buffer and you just need to subject the system to your multiphasic polydynamic transducer to get it to flush the buffer to the new drive to recover all the files.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Bigbutt (65939)

      Well the problem is that the people probably turned on the "appliance" and it didn't work. So they called their repair guy who said he could recover the data for them. He was able to scam them because they didn't know how the computer worked.

      [John]

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Locutus (9039)

      come on now, this was a very intelligent computer owner, he called the computer manufacturer and asked if data could be recovered from a missing drive and they said no.

      The "repair man" probably did this to a few hundred other computer users before getting caught.

      Let me tell you a story. Some friends had a laptop which the husband said was running slow and that was a problem. I told him it was most like Windows XP and it just needed to be reinstalled because that's pretty common. He did nothing and about 2 w

      • There are three kinds of computer repair people out there.

        There are the scam artists, who take a 'broken' computer, reformat the drive, spend five minutes starting a non-legal Windows install, and charge $500. And possibly with some imaginary added hardware costs tacked on too. Person gets a computer they're going to get spyware on six months and it will be messed again. Usually they don't resort to deliberately breaking computers, but who knows.

        And then there are the legit repair centers, who tend to take the easy way out, but at least they are honest. Most of the time the easy way is 'replace the computer' so people lose their data, though.

        Then there are the good guys, who sit down, don't reformat the drive, work for two hours installing AVG and Ad-Aware, give an hour of instruction during that, and think it's worth maybe $20 and a Coke from their fridge.

        All you good guys out there, start charging more. Honestly. You are not charging for work, you are charging for knowledge.

        Or think of it this way: The alternative to what you're doing is requires $200 of (legit) repairs or a $300 new computer. You can, indeed, change them $100 for that.

        Your time is not worth what you think it's worth. For you, half of it is a game, and the other half is satisfaction at a job well done, but you don't set the value for your time.

        Your time is worth what they think it's worth, and I assure you, you're a hell of a lot cheaper than the alternatives. (And provide better value, considering that half the time you're sitting fixing stuff you're providing a computer class in how to not have this happen again.)

        • Very very true... and you'll get high praise, recommendations to others, and repeat business. Many people would be surprised at how taking the time to explain how to prevent a problem, or how something happened (in terms a customer can understand) goes a long way when combined with honest, good service.

        • by eekygeeky (777557)

          This is categorically untrue. One does in fact set the value of one's time.

          You think you're worth $100/hour, you don't take $50. this is an iron law in service work from hairdressers to auto mechanics to software consultants.

          the client doesn't set your rates, or you'll work for free. YOU set your rates.

          whether or not you have accurately valued your skills, your market and your costs determines how much work you have.

          this is why so many, many, many geeks fail at businesses, esp. small businesses. You have no

          • by jabithew (1340853)

            Well, it's a market. So you and your clients come to a mutually acceptable value on your time. The issue at hand, though badly expressed, is still true; geeks have a habit of severely undervaluing our time and knowledge.

        • by jabithew (1340853)

          This reminds me of neighbour tech support. They had a computer that wasn't working, they'd called MS and had hung up when they wanted £50. I went around and (eventually) worked out that a capacitor had blown on the graphics card, something an MS helpline could never have worked out. I told them which graphics card to get as a replacement and went home without charging a penny. Was pleasantly surprised to get a voucher for £20 through the letterbox.

          In retrospect that's underpayment, b

      • by cojsl (694820)

        he tells me his computer guru neighbor fixed his computer because it had a bad hard disk and now everything is nice a fast again.

        Did you test the hard drive? Your friend may well have had a good drive, and only needed a windows reinstall. The neighbor may have tested the drive, or came across bad sectors in the process of cloning the drive. Drives are so inexpensive compared to the labor required to reinstall a second time, that it's silly not to replace them if there's any sign of trouble.

  • Phase 4: ??? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by roc97007 (608802) on Thursday May 07, 2009 @02:43PM (#27864399) Journal

    Phase 5: Profit!

  • How often does a story on the Morning Call get posted to slashdot?

    This would be like reading about the construction on Route 309 in the Wall Street Journal, or something...

    (I'm from the Lehigh Valley, in case that wasn't clear).

    • The crime's in Bethlehem and it probably won't be making any other papers either. And the construction is usually on 22 (and has been since about 1950) but that tends to back up 309... another story entirely.

    • In case you didn't know, Emeril is opening his first restaurant in the Northeast at the Sands casino going up in Bethlehem.

      Yeah, I know. I had the same opinion.

    • How often does a story on the Morning Call get posted to slashdot?

      That just what I was thinking! One would imagine it would be on the Express Times. Wow...so /. has more Lehigh Valley folk than I thought.

    • by scubamage (727538)
      Rated you up because you're from the LV, and I gotta support my droogs. The best part about it is that its one less technician to compete with. Good riddance to bad rubbish. Speaking of which, I've got to call them tonight and offer up my repair services.
  • Charges filed... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chabo (880571) on Thursday May 07, 2009 @02:46PM (#27864453) Homepage Journal

    Here's what I'm curious about: how did he get charged with theft and receiving stolen property?

    Was it just that he had possession of the stolen property, so they knew that one would stick, so it was a lesser included offense, just in case they couldn't prove the theft?

    • Here's what I'm curious about: how did he get charged with theft and receiving stolen property?

      He stole it, then sold it to himself.

      He was also charged with sexual assualt, of himself, because when they picked him up he was looking at porn.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Farmer Tim (530755)

        He was also charged with sexual assualt, of himself, because when they picked him up he was looking at porn.

        No, that was consentful by way of a handshake agreement.

    • Yes.

      This is why you'll sometimes see murder suspects charged with 1st degree, 2nd degree, and manslaughter for one dead body. It gives the jury the option to choose which charge they think actually applies based on the evidence.

    • by Renraku (518261)

      Theft is taking something for your own that legally belongs to someone else.

      Receiving stolen property is selling or attempting to sell property that you know or believe to be stolen. If you're in the business of buying/selling used goods, you must take due diligence to ensure that either the item isn't stolen, or that the person that sold it to you can be found if need be.

    • He is being charged in the alternative. Either he stole the hard drive himself, in which case, he would be a thief, or he receive the stolen hard drive from a third-party culprit, in which case, he would be a receiver of stolen merchandise.

  • by UseCase (939095) on Thursday May 07, 2009 @02:53PM (#27864573)
    If it weren't for those meddling kids!!!!
  • by JoeF (6782)

    From TFA, he wanted to charge $50 per hour for 40 hours.

  • by goffster (1104287) on Thursday May 07, 2009 @03:02PM (#27864717)

    He replaced good hard drive with
    a bad hard drive when he stole it.

    • Hey, now I know why I've been hanging onto that hard drive that spews SMART errors. I knew there was a good reason to hang onto it.

  • by pfunk (19705) on Thursday May 07, 2009 @03:05PM (#27864787)
    He should have replaced the hard drive with a blank formatted hard drive. Then when the realty office tried to start the system and it wouldn't boot, take the computer back to his office or shop and retrieve the "lost" data.
    • by Gat0r30y (957941)
      Look, if the guy was smart enough to think of something like that - he undoubtedly wouldn't be doing stupid stuff like stealing a HDD and trying to sell it back to the folks he stole it from for 2 large.
      • by damburger (981828)

        Criminal? Yes. Greedy? Yes. Stupid? No.

        Pulled off correctly this would be a very lucrative scam. Scrap all the repairman shit - just openly steal drives from businesses without a good backup policy, and demand ransom.

        This guy didn't have the brains, organisation, or discipline for that though.

        • by Bigbutt (65939)

          Based on the comments in the article, he'd already done it at least once and it worked. The only reason it didn't work this time is that the owner of the company called the manufacturer (probably Dell) to ask if the guy could recover the data based on the error message. They said "no way" and the owner called the cops. They checked the camera and found dumb-asses car with his company info on it. Yea, he was an idiot but it did work.

          [John]

          • Here's the funny thing - Dell was right by luck alone - or they had the customer pull the side panel to verify the drive was there/missing.

            That error can also happen when (yes, they are rarer cases - but they do happen):

            - A cable comes loose on a drive (seen it happen)

            - A disk controller dies

            - A BIOS setting gets "horrendously" screwed up (ie: IDE/SATA port shut off - I've bought older boards where that's the default - and I've had BIOS's that have reset themselves).

            - A SATA/IDE cable goes (severely) b

            • If the on-drive controller of an IDE/ATA drive fails completely, it can look to the interface on the motherboard as if the drive is completely missing, too. It's rare these days, but I'm guessing it's still possible.

              We used to have to make up WD Diag error codes to get Dell to give warranty RMAs on drives that worked one day and then just couldn't even be detected. The replacement drives worked fine hooked to the same port with the same cable. The drives were just... dead. No read/write errors, no SMART err

        • Don't companies already do this? (well, without the active theft part)

          Data recovery, transfer, and backup are all very lucrative!

    • Dear AskSlashdot:

      I am planning on stealing Hordware/software/company secrets/customers from my company/boss/girlfriend(mother)/government, but I don't want to get caught because that's bad. What's my best course of action and is there anything I should look out for?

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by MaskedSlacker (911878)

        If you're stealing customers from your girlfriend...can I have her number?

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by damien_kane (519267)

          If you're stealing customers from your girlfriend...can I have her number?

          You want him to steal you too?

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by MaskedSlacker (911878)

            I was going to make a joke about dead hookers and floorboards here, but then I decided I like not having to explain macabre humor to the FBI.

  • by Bigbutt (65939) on Thursday May 07, 2009 @03:06PM (#27864799) Homepage Journal

    I think the comments are good too. "yeah, he did the same thing at another company, we just didnt report him. he will be reported now." and the link to his meetup page [meetup.com], "am looking for a new way to improve my business"

    You couldn't make stuff up this good.

    [John]

  • by Ogive17 (691899) on Thursday May 07, 2009 @03:14PM (#27864941)
    Reminds me of the (somewhat) local story I read this morning. A man shop lifted a bunch of clothes from a department store, on is way out he stopped at the front desk to fill out a job application. Sure enough he listed his real information. When the cops showed up he was busy putting away all the stuff he had just walked out with.

    He beeped on his way through the door but still was allowed to leave (those things beep so often most employees probably ignore them now). If he didn't give them his personal information, he probably would've gotten away with it.
  • Look at the moron, I doubt he is smart enough to know how they caught up with them. The bad thing is others said he did the same to them...but was not reported. http://www.meetup.com/referralweb/members/7717367/photos/ [meetup.com]
  • SlashFark (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rindeee (530084) on Thursday May 07, 2009 @03:20PM (#27865019)
    Wow, so Slashdot is trying to be snarky like Fark these days. It's kind of like that one kids dad who picks him up at school wearing baggy pants and a hoodie. It not only doesn't work, it's embarrassing for those who have to see it.
  • by sjames (1099) on Thursday May 07, 2009 @03:21PM (#27865049) Homepage

    He had the right idea, but got the scale wrong.

    Had he stolen 1 MILLION hard drives and then demanded $2000 each to put them back, he would be "too big to fail" and then he would just have to give everyone a $1 off coupon on their next HD install.

    He could have done worse though. Had he hacked in and disabled the drive remotely, he would be up for a MUCH longer sentence.

    • He could have done worse though. Had he hacked in and disabled the drive remotely, he would be up for a MUCH longer sentence.

      He could have done even worse. Imagine what would happed had he downloaded a Metallica MP3...

  • by roc97007 (608802) on Thursday May 07, 2009 @04:05PM (#27865861) Journal

    When I hear stories like this, (and they are legion) I have to wonder if the tech was really that stupid, or did he believe that a lack of computer expertise in his customers meant they were that stupid. Speaking as a geek, I've noticed a tendency among a (fortunately small) subset of geeks to believe that having a deep expertise in one area makes them generally more competent in everything, including areas completely out of their expertise, like, say, crime.

    When I was in college, two roommates apparently had such a misunderstanding, which led to a "foolproof plan" to pay off their student loans and retire in geek luxury. Their criminal career lasted a mere 24 hours. I still have the front page showing them spread-eagled against a cop car.

    Sometimes I wonder if extreme geeks -- meaning not the truly hyper-intelligent, but the self-sequestered wannabes -- lacking normal social interaction, have less of an understanding of basic morals than the rest of us.

    • I'll second the "Details, please!" request, in case you've blocked AC's.

      • by roc97007 (608802)

        Sigh, alright. Let's call them Moe and Larry. I learned the details later, partly from the police report and partly from Moe when he got bailed out and came back to the apartment for his stuff.

        Larry worked in a big warehouse-type store, the kind where you pay for your purchase in one part of the store and then take your receipt to the stockroom entrance to receive your merchandise. Moe and Larry thought it was a really stupid system that just begged to be abused.

        Their foolproof plan was for Larry to

        • by mqduck (232646)

          How is stealing from Ikea "fleecing the proles"?

    • by dangitman (862676)

      When I was in college, two roommates apparently had such a misunderstanding, which led to a "foolproof plan" to pay off their student loans and retire in geek luxury. Their criminal career lasted a mere 24 hours. I still have the front page showing them spread-eagled against a cop car.

      Hey, stop teasing! Tell us the story - what was their plan? That sounds like it might be more interesting than this story.

  • Because only a geek would be stupid enough to think he could get away with it.

    The real equation

    Normal person == stupid
    Geek == normal person cognitive issues

    I hope he likes anal

    • by Kaenneth (82978)

      You did patent your business methods, correct?, you should just sue him for imfringment.

  • A lesson to all: (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by Trojan35 (910785)

    It's amazing how many people that know something better than me--say, fixing a car or being a web developer--assume that they know everything better than me and everyone else in the world. Those people are the most dangerous stupid and if they don't have morals will often land in jail.

  • He tried to charge them $50/hr for 40 hours. That's $2000, not $50.
  • Get charged with theft and receiving stolen property!

    Well, now we finally know what "???" stands for. But it seems that the profit the guy hoped for didn't materialize.

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