Computer Repairman Steals Hard Drive, Tries To Charge Company For 'Retrieving' Data

from the so-close-yet-so-far dept

It's widely known that internal staff are the biggest threat to IT security, but what about your computer repairman? After a hard drive was stolen from Real Living Action Realty in Pennsylvania, the company called Kevin Andrew Lutes, who had done repair work for them in the past, to fix the machine. He told them he could retrieve the files, but the owner later called the computer manufacturer and learned that it's impossible to do this... without the hard drive. Oh, and the police learned that Lutes' car -- computer repair sticker and all -- was spotted outside the office on the night of the break-in. When he returned a few days later with the stolen hard drive back inside the computer and tried to charge the company $2000 for the "repair," Lutes was arrested and charged with theft. You'd think that with potential access to the machine, he could have done something a little more subtle or sinister, but, lucky for the company, their repairman turned out to be a pretty dumb criminal. Someone should let him know that basing a business model on artificial scarcity is a bad idea...


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  1.  
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    kevjohn, May 15th, 2009 @ 6:59am

    innovative business model

    meh. He's still better than the Geek Squad.

     

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  2.  
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    Ima Fish, May 15th, 2009 @ 7:16am

    "He told them he could retrieve the files, but the owner later called the computer manufacturer and learned that it's impossible to do this... without the hard drive."

    I love that part. Why did the guy ever think anyone would believe he could magically pull those stolen files out of thin air.

     

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  3.  
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    Ima Fish, May 15th, 2009 @ 7:18am

    Re: innovative business model

    Yeah, the Geek Squad was steal your hard drive, fill it up with porn, then lose it, but then charge you a grand to install a new one, which wasn't really new, but was about 10 years old. After getting home and opening the box, you'd find a brick instead of your computer.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 15th, 2009 @ 7:33am

    Idiot

    When I pull this scam I put a blank hard drive in the machine. That way they think the drive just failed. I pick up the computer, take to my shop, swap the drives out, and bring it back four days later. These data recoveries take time. That's why they're so expensive. It also helps to erase and corrupt a few files to make the whole thing more credible.

     

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  5.  
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    anon, May 15th, 2009 @ 7:45am

    at least say...

    He could have at least said that he could retrieve it from "automated back-ups" or something of that sort. at least then he could have had an excuse. there's no end to dumb criminals.

     

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  6.  
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    Bill Gates, May 15th, 2009 @ 8:48am

    Re: Idiot

    This is why I never go to a computer repair shoppe.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 15th, 2009 @ 8:55am

    Re:

    "Why did the guy ever think anyone would believe he could magically pull those stolen files out of thin air."

    Apparently you've never worked at an IT helpdesk before. There are a plethora of users out there that think IT people are magicians that can make a computer do just about anything, including teaching pigs to fly. Granted, this one does have a pretty high "DUH" factor, but I rate it right up there with people who can't understand that their office PC has to be left powered on in order to access it remotely, and I've dealt with plenty of them.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 15th, 2009 @ 9:13am

    Basing a business model on artificial scarcity is a bad idea? Really? Then why, pray tell, are the movie and recording industries still so profitable despite all of the "evils" of "piracy"?

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 15th, 2009 @ 9:17am

    Missing from the news

    I live in Easton, just a few miles away, and the radio reported that the business owner was initially charged with receiving stolen property.

     

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  10.  
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    mnk, May 15th, 2009 @ 9:29am

    It Could Happen

    As a repair man with your best interests in mind I might have a copy of your data, created as a drive image the last time your computer was in the shop, or an image sent to an external drive to avoid making a problem worse, like virus removal or a hardware or software upgrade.

    I have always tried to concentrate my clients in a small area so that I can go door to door, or be on hand quickly.

    The question is who but a computer guy would steal ONLY THE HARD DRIVE in the middle of the night ?

     

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  11.  
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    Mike (profile), May 15th, 2009 @ 9:45am

    Re:

    Basing a business model on artificial scarcity is a bad idea? Really? Then why, pray tell, are the movie and recording industries still so profitable despite all of the "evils" of "piracy"?

    And, why, pray tell, are both businesses struggling to keep up with modern technologies and seeing their revenue shrink?

    Artificial scarcity may work for a short period of time... but it leaves itself wide open to being disintermediated.

     

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  12.  
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    Grae (profile), May 15th, 2009 @ 10:21am

    Srsly?

    The snark about artificial scarcities aside, the real lesson is that if you commit a crime, maybe you shouldn't hand over the evidence of that crime to the people you committed it against?

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 15th, 2009 @ 10:43am

    Re: Missing from the news

    Which business owner? The IT guy who ran his repair business or the owner of the company that was stolen from?

     

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  14.  
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    StrongArm, May 15th, 2009 @ 11:32am

    Re: Re:

    I agree I used to do a lot of tech support and we sometimes assume that non techy people know how a computer works. It's not the case. Take my 72 year old father for instance, he somehow still seems to think that the Internet is on his computer after having it explained to hi9m a dozen times. I think it may be that fact that he just really doesn't care or have to care.

    This criminal is a shining example of the idiots we have next to us every day!

     

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  15.  
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    Rekrul, May 15th, 2009 @ 1:00pm

    A lot of people are saying that the criminal was dumb for removing the HD and that the company was dumb for believing that he could pull the files out of thin air. However...

    Unless he left the case open, or someone at the company actually opened the case to look inside, how would they even know that the drive was missing? I mean, you turn on the system, it doesn't find the drive and it display an error message, or just beeps. That someone physically removed the drive wouldn't be my first assumption. I'd think that the drive died.

    Maybe he was counting on them thinking that and he'd e able to tell them that he fixed.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 15th, 2009 @ 11:03pm

    Re: Idiot

    I hope to God you're joking. If not then I hope to God somebody figures you out and you wind up in pound-me-in-the-ass prison. Being a computer nerd I'm sure you'll make lots of "friends".

     

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  17.  
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    Easily Amused, May 16th, 2009 @ 1:08pm

    Re: Idiot

    kidding or not, this is a somewhat common brag I have heard from guys in my old tech support call center that used to have a work-from-home pc repair business.

    Other gems are charging people for replacing a network card when the issue was an unplugged cable, $150-$300 to "clean out a virus problem" that involved running Spybot for 10 minutes, etc.

    Part of the problem is that computers and parts have become so cheap that it is usually far more cost effective to just replace something than keep it serviced. So, the service guys have to pad the bill or outright lie to make a profit sometimes.

    If you don't have someone in your family or friends who is techie, network a bit and find someone in your kid's friends, or a co-worker's kid. They will be much more honest about the problem, probably fix it faster, rarely force a format/reinstall OS on you when it isn't necessary, and they are usually very happy with whatever you think is a fair payment.

     

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  18.  
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    Miss Foot, May 16th, 2009 @ 9:30pm

    There are a lot of on-line boards

    in which advice is freely dispensed in the threads by people who love all computers, particularly Mac. While I would take my Macs to The Genius Bar at the Apple Store to have it checked out if needed, the first place I would go is to an on-line geek thread for Apple Adorers. Much better than calling some strange over-priced repair dude who will rip me off worse than would a strange, over-priced auto mechanic.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous, May 18th, 2009 @ 8:36am

    Meh.

    "There are a lot of on-line boards in which advice is freely dispensed in the threads by people who love all computers, particularly Mac. While I would take my Macs to The Genius Bar at the Apple Store to have it checked out if needed, the first place I would go is to an on-line geek thread for Apple Adorers. Much better than calling some strange over-priced repair dude who will rip me off worse than would a strange, over-priced auto mechanic."

    I'm still waiting for a Mac that has every part replaceable by the end user when a fault comes to call. This is why PCs still remain, to this say, better than a Mac. I'm not citing the fact that PCs have the exact same variety of hardware for much cheaper or technically superior operating systems available. (Except Windows. Windows sucks.).

    Do many Mac users even understand what UNIX is or why it's a big deal OS X is a UNIX? IF not, then the entire UNIX component of OS X is wasted.

    I'm saying this frankly as a Linux user.

     

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  20.  
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    1337, Feb 5th, 2010 @ 6:12pm

    Simple example of underestimating your opposition's intelligence. Nothing more, nothing less.

     

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  21.  
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    Blue Creek Tech, Oct 7th, 2013 @ 9:08pm

    Not a good business model. Profits dry up real fast. LOL!

     

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  22.  
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    jace, Oct 20th, 2013 @ 12:08pm

    It's tough to believe this would happen. Discredits us all!!

     

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  23.  
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    jace, Oct 27th, 2013 @ 12:32pm

    cool

    A lot of people are saying that the criminal was dumb for removing the HD and that the company was dumb for believing that he could pull the files out of thin air. However...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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