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Man Finds Divorce Papers, Tax Docs On "New" Laptop 218

Posted by samzenpus
from the a-little-something-extra dept.
An anonymous reader writes "25-year-old Hidayat Sudirman found that his new laptop came loaded with more than just the usual software, it also contained 10GB of someone else's documents. From the article: "A buyer on the lookout for a new laptop got more than he bargained for at his local computer fair when the 'new' device came loaded with over 10GB of personal documents — including divorce papers and tax returns."
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Man Finds Divorce Papers, Tax Docs On "New" Laptop

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  • by Stenchwarrior (1335051) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @11:18AM (#35586738)
    I think I saw an article a while back that IBM was going to add even more bloatware and start including "starter docs" to take the guess work out of creating day-to-day files and records. That's not personal data, those are "templates".
    • by DigiShaman (671371) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @11:25AM (#35586856) Homepage

      As complicated as that process can get, I'm surprised we don't see an MS Divorce 2011 suite available. They can even have a Professional and Ultimate edition depending on if you have kids and/or wealthy.

       

      • And an academic version that helps you prepare to not pay child support.

      • by Pharmboy (216950)

        Do you have to buy the Pro version to get the templates for suicide and ransom notes?

      • by khr (708262)

        As complicated as that process can get, I'm surprised we don't see an MS Divorce 2011 suite available. They can even have a Professional and Ultimate edition depending on if you have kids and/or wealthy.

        Professional and Ultimate? I think in this case it'd have to be more like Mobile, Home and Gold editions...

      • Pretty sure Ultimate addition would be for those gold diggers that marry older men and wait for them to die. Repeat.

      • by sorak (246725)

        As complicated as that process can get, I'm surprised we don't see an MS Divorce 2011 suite available. They can even have a Professional and Ultimate edition depending on if you have kids and/or wealthy.

        My wife caught me cheating, but I tried to tell her about Microsoft Divorce. "It's not adultery", I said. "I'm just using the fifteen day trial".

        • by denzacar (181829)

          Boy do you have another thing comin' If you think that you will get away with only 15 days of divorce trial.

      • Remember what happened when a company tried to publish a bunch of boilerplate legalese? yeah, I don't think MS will be doing that any time soon.
    • This reminds me of a time when I snagged a secondhand 40GB hard drive from a local computer shop to put in my father-in-law's computer to give him more space. It had someone else's data all over it. I called the shop to let them know that they'd sold a hard drive with someone's data on it and they didn't seem to care. Needless to say, I advised the father-in-law to never go back to that shop again. If I'd been just a tad more malicious, I would've gone through the data on the hard drive to get some contact
    • by blair1q (305137)

      Nothing new.

      The government has been preloading infants with debt for decades.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It could have been any one of us who sold their laptop to some guy who sells laptops at an IT fair in Singapore!

    Let

    • Hopefully most Slashdotters would at least make a minimal effort at wiping personal data off of any computer before selling it on.

      • by sorak (246725)

        Hopefully most Slashdotters would at least make a minimal effort at wiping personal data off of any computer before selling it on.

        It is also possible that the laptop is stolen. I don't know, but if it is new enough to be passed off as brand new, then there has to be a story of why it is for sale.

    • by ddd0004 (1984672)

      Yeah no kidding. This is like me buying a car stereo from a guy who walked up to me a gas station and then recoiling in shock when it already has a cd in it. A better title for this article should be "Newsflash: Sometimes People Steal Things"

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @11:23AM (#35586810)

    The article pushes the use of TrueCrypt rather heavily, but while it is nice for most people on a Mac it's a lot easier to just turn on FileVault (which stores your whole home directory in an encrypted disk image) and then make sure you require a login when you wake the computer.

    I believe there's also a similar solution for Windows. In general it's better to promote the solution that works and is most likely to get used.

    • If we're going to mention specific OSes that have encryption built in, then I'll add Ubuntu and Windows Vista/7* to your list.

      * probably just the more expensive versions, I'm not sure though

      • by Coren22 (1625475)

        In Vista and 7, yes, it is in the ultimate version and is called bitlocker.

        Windows Vista
        http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-vista/products/compare [microsoft.com]
        Windows 7
        http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windows-7/compare/default.aspx [microsoft.com]

        • by St.Creed (853824)

          Also in the enterprise versions.

          It really irritates the heck out of me - as freelancer I don't use most of the specific Enterprise features, nor the Ultimate features (for Vista at least) but whoever thought Bitlocker should be left out of the business edition is an idiot. All freelancers who tote around their laptop all day to customers could use it.

          • by egamma (572162)

            Also in the enterprise versions.

            It really irritates the heck out of me - as freelancer I don't use most of the specific Enterprise features, nor the Ultimate features (for Vista at least) but whoever thought Bitlocker should be left out of the business edition is an idiot. All freelancers who tote around their laptop all day to customers could use it.

            I agree that it would be nice to include bitlocker, but you can still use EFS to encrypt your documents in Win 7 Pro. just be sure to back up your personal cert.

            • by Bert64 (520050)

              Isn't EFS just using your password hash as the key, or at least using that hash as the key to encrypt the actual certificate... In any case, it's supposed to be pretty weak and quite easy to retrieve data from.

              Also, the reason most windows users go for full disk encryption instead of user level encryption is because of just how many places on disk windows could store personal information, whereas on a unix system it pretty much only goes in $HOME, /tmp (which you can put in ram) and swap (which you can encr

              • by Tim C (15259)

                Actually I believe that Windows should only be putting user data in the \users\$username directory tree.

                Non-conforming third-party apps on the other hand are a different matter.

              • by nstlgc (945418)
                These days, except for the registry, pretty much everything goes in C:\Users\. But nice try.
      • If we're going to mention specific OSes that have encryption built in, then I'll add Ubuntu and Windows Vista/7* to your list.

        I already added Windows in my original post (just forgot the name of Bitlocker) and it goes without saying that Linux includes the same because anyone who knows what Linux is would know that. But someone running Linux would also know enough to evaluate the full range of choices rather than needing a simple switch.

    • by ItsLenny (1132387)
      My fear with using BitLocker (win) or FileVault (mac) is that if for whatever reason my computer stops booting I won't be able to get in and get my files back. If you leave your files unencrypted you can usually just use a boot cd or worst case plug the drive in to another computer to save your files. Before anyone says it yes I do back up regularly, but you never know

      However, with TrueCrypt you get a file which is a disc image that can be opened on any system as long as you have the TrueCrypt software
      • by blueg3 (192743)

        With FileVault, you can recover your files on any Macintosh system. (You could technically recover your files on any system, but I don't know if anyone's written a sparsebundle reader for other OSes.)

        Your home directory is, in fact, stored as a OS-X-specific disk image (sparsebundle) encrypted with your passphrase. It's not tightly bound to your particular computer or user account, except that the passphrase is required to be the same as your login password.

        • by gknoy (899301)

          So ... to recover, you put the disk in a new / different Mac, create an account with the same passphrase, and then log in?

          • Yes, exactly, as long as you have the right passphrase you can get in the sparsebundle.

            That's the rub of course, if you lose that passphrase it's all gone. But that's true of TrueCrypt as well.

            This is all made transparent by Apple's Time Machine backup, from which you just restore the whole system in the event of dramatic failure or machine replacement. If you are using a Mac and not using Time Machine, you are insane at it's the best way to maintain backups and fully recover a system.

            • by blueg3 (192743)

              FileVault actually also uses a backup key stored in the recovery keychain, so that you can decrypt your home directory in the event you lose your passphrase. I'm not familiar with using the recovery keychain on a foreign system, though.

          • by blueg3 (192743)

            No. To recover, you simply open the .sparsebundle file on any Macintosh. It will prompt for your passphrase and mount the disk image.

            If you use FileVault home directory encryption, the only thing your real home directory on disk contains is a single .sparsebundle file. Whenever you log in, that .sparsebundle is mounted (on top of your home directory's location). However, the entire login process is not necessary. A .sparsebundle is simple a disk image file, and a FileVault .sparsebundle is simply an encrypt

          • by vegiVamp (518171)

            That still requires you to have the actual passphrase of the account. Granted, all you need to do is run John for a period of time, but it still isn't trivial to get to the files, given a proper passphrase.

      • by PReDiToR (687141)
        The problem, THE problem with encrypting your hard drive is that you add another set of complications in case of filesystem corruption.

        I know we all use Linux here and that it never crashes, but you just try and fsck a filesystem after typing candlejack, it can't be
        • by blair1q (305137)

          Depends how the encryption works. If it hides all of the encrypted tree in an encrypted file (e.g. a tarball) then corruption of the encrypted tree is just corruption of a file and not a matter for fsck to deal with. If it encrypts each file separately then fsck should be able to find and relink them to the lost+found the way it does when they're unencrypted.

          Unless of course you create a filesystem named candlejack, then you're f

    • The article pushes the use of TrueCrypt rather heavily, but while it is nice for most people on a Mac it's a lot easier to just turn on FileVault (which stores your whole home directory in an encrypted disk image) and then make sure you require a login when you wake the computer.

      The last time I looked (which was fairly recently), FileVault conflicted with Time Machine in that TM would only back up your home directory while you were actually logged out of the machine if you had FileVault enabled. Is that still the case?

      Reference to an example discussion of the issue: http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa;jsessionid=49AFF6673807DC58FD81B4150F261932.node0?messageID=11535839& [apple.com]

      • That is unfortunately true but you can make TM actually back up your files and not the sparsebundle (which means it will back-up while you are logged in):

        http://hints.macworld.com/article.php?story=20100123173425191 [macworld.com]

        Sadly not something you could easily direct a normal person to do, as an encrypted laptop with an un-encrypted backup is the ideal situation for most users.

        Also I would kind of worry how fast you could recover if you had tricked TM in that way, it seems like the process would be a lot more hands-

  • by mmell (832646) <mmell@hotmail.com> on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @11:25AM (#35586864)
    I see two possibilities, in order of decreasing likelihood...

    1 - The seller got his hand on a bunch of identical, lightly-used machines and decided to resell 'em as "new". Creep.

    ---or

    2 - The seller imaged a bunch of boxes from a used machine (with the end in view of not having to register/activate multiple copies of Windows) - i.e., the seller is pushing a pirated version of Windows with his new machines. Creep.

    • by MORB (793798)

      Or

      3 - someone brought the computer, returned it and got a refund for whatever reason, and they omitted to wipe the drive when they repackaged it.

      People often don't realize that as a downside of the ability to return items, the stuff they purchase might actually have been previously sold and then returned.

      • "People often don't realize that as a downside of the ability to return items, the stuff they purchase might actually have been previously sold and then returned."

        That should never happen. Returned items should always be labeled USED when resold, except maybe for those where it's clear that the prior customer didn't open it.

        • by MORB (793798)

          So merely opening the box should turn a brand new item into a used one? It doesn't really make sense, because for all intent and purpose it is still brand new when the store sells it to another customer.

          It's covered by warranty just the same, and they make sure it's in pristine condition (except occasional mishaps like what might have happened in TFA) before repackaging it and putting it back on the shelves.

          If they had to sell returned items as used, then they wouldn't bother having a return policy in the f

          • If the box is open how can you tell it was never used? (Sub "internal shrink wrap" for "box" as needed.) If someone else has opened the box, it should be labeled as such. Otherwise how am I to know that they returned it with the product unmolested and all the accessories intact? If companies can't do this (and do like Fry's with a 3% "opened item" discount), then they should charge a stocking fee to cover returns. Then people can choose not to buy there if they don't like the return policy.

            This is the

          • by Smauler (915644)

            How many times can an item be returned before it loses its "new" status? Just once, twice, or a lot more? Seriously, new means new, not as new. Personally I'm happy with buying returned items, as long as I know about it. If the company is advertising items that may have been previously used as new, that's technically fraud. Also, I'm happy with companies using relatively draconian returns policies - I don't want to pay for someone who realises what they bought wasn't quite what they wanted.

        • by blair1q (305137)

          I didn't read TFA so I'm going to make the assumption that the packaging was pristine, including the peel-off plastic protector sheets, so the computer looked "new" until the point it was turned on.

          Which leads to the simple conclusion that the computer was in fact a refurb, and the refurbisher did everything on the checklist except re-imaging the drive.

          Simple mistake on the refurb's part. Plain fraud by someone who knew it was a refurb and labelled it new.

  • Years and years ago. Stuck it in my machine and it booted Win98se. Such a bargain.
  • At least in my view. I negotiate with the seller in order to get myself a bargain (50% off ideally; or 30% off if he's resistant).

    If seller refuses to provide a partial discount, then I ship back the item at THEIR expense, not mine, because they made the error of sending a "new" laptop that is actually used.

    One advantage of how laws and credit card contracts are written: The buyer holds almost-all the power, so it's rare for a seller to succeed in ripping you off.

  • Is it only me who finds this a bit insane? 10GB - that enough to store an entire library!
  • Used is the new new (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kurt555gs (309278) <(kurt555gs) (at) (ovi.com)> on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @11:31AM (#35586970) Homepage

    I just got a "new" Boxee Box from Amazon that had some one's name in the accounts. To bad he didn't subscribe to Netflix. How come big business can sell used things as new?

    If I return something. It should never be able to be sold as new again!

    • by sribe (304414)

      If I return something. It should never be able to be sold as new again!

      I think most states have laws on the books that in order to be sold as new an item has to be really new, never used. You would probably agree, however, that if you don't even open the item it could sold as new? If not, that would certainly complicate return policies...

      I just got a "new" Boxee Box from Amazon that had some one's name in the accounts. To bad he didn't subscribe to Netflix. How come big business can sell used things as new?

      Sometimes the creep is the original purchaser. Sometimes a purchaser will go to great lengths to make it look as though the box was never opened. It has happened to me--get box that looks new, open it, find disheveled obviously used equipment

      • by blair1q (305137)

        Uniform commercial code, section 2-313B [cornell.edu].

        What it says in paragraph 3 is, if the seller says it's new, it has to be new. It also says, in paragraph 4, if the seller says it's worth the same as something that's new, it doesn't have to be worth that much. And in paragraph 5 it says that the fine print of their sales pitch may give you no opportunity to recover even if they lied. So watch out for scammy wording. And in paragraph 6 it says it's not their fault if it broke in transit.

        IANAL, but I'm probably be

  • This happened to me on a new laptop at Best Buy, and as if that wasn't bad enough, they tried to charge me a restocking fee when I returned it!!
    • by sribe (304414)

      This happened to me on a new laptop at Best Buy, and as if that wasn't bad enough, they tried to charge me a restocking fee when I returned it!!

      Well of course they wanted a re-stocking fee! After all, they couldn't sell it as new after you'd opened it!

      ;-) ;-) ;-)

      • by gknoy (899301)

        I've read several accounts of this happening at stores like Best Buy - things are either incorrectly re-boxed, or the like. When you buy any electronic equipment, insist at the door that they open the box and verify that what is inside is what you bought -- instead of, say, floor tiles or an old stapler. This protects you from the nightmare of trying to return it, because they will never believe you when you say, "yes, but the box never had the product in it".

        • I bought a keyboard at Fry's that was new but had damage on the box (a big tear and crush). (It was one of the last two, and I was buying one for myself and my wife really wanted one as well.)

          I insisted that I be able to open the box at the counter and verify that the keyboard wasn't damaged. Wow, that was complicated. They had to get a burly store manager over to watch me, and they told me the whole time that they don't usually allow this. As it happens the keyboard was fine and I bought it anyway, but

        • by sribe (304414)

          When you buy any electronic equipment, insist at the door that they open the box and verify that what is inside is what you bought -- instead of, say, floor tiles or an old stapler.

          Never thought of that. Good advice, if a bit of a hassle. (Hope somebody mods you up.) Wouldn't have worked in my case since the item in question came via mail order--didn't mention that in the post you're replying to because I didn't think of it as being relevant...

  • ... Film at eleven.

    FTFA:

    > (a used device) on the understanding that it was a brand-new device

    >China

    This is news? In China? Really?

    For anyone who's ever been to one, you know that there are good dealers and bad dealers. You need to know which is which. You can get a steal (haha) or you can be shafted. Being shafted doesn't happen often, but it does. You can't just walk in knowing nothing. Caveat emptor.

    That said, computer fairs are good for people looking for specialized used equipment without ha

    • by gknoy (899301)

      For anyone who's ever been to one, you know that there are good dealers and bad dealers. You need to know which is which.

      How does one (especially someone new to a computer fair) discriminate the good dealers from the bad ones? What precautions do you suggest taking?

  • by gwolf (26339) <gwolf@gwol[ ]rg ['f.o' in gap]> on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @11:47AM (#35587334) Homepage

    The divorce papers spelt his own name. That futuristic laptop, top-spec and top-notch in every possible detail, was actually a gift from the future. And after reading through some pages of the divorce settlement, he called his fiancée and cancelled the marriage.

    As if by magic, the laptop was now empty. He would not be able to show the nifty features of Office 2018 to his office mates.

    • by rubycodez (864176)
      A week later, his fiancée rang his doorbell and then axe murdered him. The hard drive had a folder appear, full of news items: her hateful rantings on twitter and facebook the grisly discovery of the remains in her freezer, her subsequent altercation with police officers leaving two to bleed to death, her arrest, and suicide while awaiting trial.
    • If it's from the future, any word on if Duke Nukem Forever actually ended up coming out?
  • by DarthBart (640519) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @11:57AM (#35587558)

    I worked in the IT department for a company, and we ordered a couple of laptops for evaluation from CDW. One of the laptops was defective (the lid closure switch didn't work). So I sent it back and got a replacement. A week later, we ordered a dozen laptops. In that shipment was the defective one I had sent back, still in the same box I shipped back in (I had torn the box trying to get the box open). Needless to say, a nasty phone call was made to our sales rep and he overnighted a replacement and they never asked for the defective unit back. I kept the defective unit as my desktop.

  • by RevWaldo (1186281) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @12:06PM (#35587712)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8D1e3kD4W8 [youtube.com]

    Although my main issue with this ad is you'd really give some flunkies at Staples access to your tax files? REALLY??!?

    .
    • by blair1q (305137)

      What could some flunkies at Staples do with your tax files that they can't do with the credit card number you gave them?

      The only people you don't want knowing about your taxes is the IRS, but they're the ones who ask for them. It's Kafkaesque, is what it is.

  • Not a story.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by m509272 (1286764) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @12:08PM (#35587744)

    This was bought at a computer fair give me a break. Retailers selling returned stuff as new, not a surprise, definitely illegal. Manufacturers pulling it, extremely illegal. I had a friend that bought a "new" external hard drive only to find that it was loaded with someone else's photos, tax returns, etc. We believe that was the manufacturer buying refurb drives to install in the external case. Does that constitute a "new" product?

  • At least now I know where my stolen laptop ended up!
  • by Lumpy (12016)

    If you buy a laptop at a "computer faire" you will get lied to and sold used hardware. Nobody in those arenas are telling the truth and selling used stuff as new.

  • I once purchased a 'new' hard drive from a computer store here in Vancouver, Canada. The store is well known for having the best prices in town, but also the worst service imaginable. They are literally hostile to customers. When I got home and slaved up the drive I discovered it was already full of data - Someone had obviously returned it and the store just resold it. When I tried to return it I got quite the hassle. Conversation went something like this -

    "I want to return this hard drive."
    "NO RE
  • The summary doesn't *quite* represent the facts.

    This wasn't a "new" laptop the way most of us would think "new" ie box, packaging, etc; from TFA: "...Hidayat Sudirman...bought a 14-inch Asus laptop from a stand at his local (Singapore) IT fair..."

    It was UNDERSTOOD to be new.

  • by penguin_dance (536599) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @01:55PM (#35589476)

    Hidayat Sudirman, a 25 year old civil servant from Singapore, bought a 14-inch Asus laptop from a stand at his local IT fair on the understanding that it was a brand-new device. When he got it home, however, it appeared not to be the case.

    So he didn't buy this at a store or from Dell/HP/whatever. He bought it at an IT fair in Singapore and they LIED and said it was new?

    This is news?

  • by Orange Crush (934731) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @02:11PM (#35589688)
    That's quite a lot for a single individual to amass in a (presumably) short period of time between buying and returning a computer. I think they perhaps mean 10 gigs in personal files alltogether. If the previous user imported their music library, photo albums, video*cough*porn*cough*, then that's easy enough. Documents alone would be surprising, tho.
  • How much does a tax return fetch on the black market? Was this an American tax return or local?
  • Every day people bring back computers, after they did something real quick on them (played a game, wanted to download one thing, do their taxes, work on a project, etc), and stores like Walmart, Best Buy, etc etc etc will just put them right back on the shelves unless they're broken. Hell, even major companies (Toshiba, for instance) will get broken products returned to them, then just put a 'this might be broken" sticker inside the product, then when it gets returned AGAIN, they finally decide to find out

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