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Online Revenge 645

Many people have submitted this story of a broken laptop purchased on e-bay. The buyer gives a little lesson on why you should always clean your hard drive before you sell a computer.
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Online Revenge

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Everyone is having a nice laugh right now, but it won't seem so funny if this guy commits suicide. Then we'll be reading about how the 'buyer' is on trial.
    • by jlarocco ( 851450 ) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @02:22AM (#15442458) Homepage
      Everyone is having a nice laugh right now, but it won't seem so funny if this guy commits suicide.

      I believe the word for that would be "hilarious."

    • by ah802 ( 810203 ) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @03:00AM (#15442628)
      The presumption for that, is this seller is 'honourable','respectable', and didn't sell a dead laptop with inflated specs. The images on this system clearly show otherwise and there is legal redress if he feels that he has been wronged... the truth can hurt.
    • If Amir kills himself, the guy who posted the photos might feel bad about it. But face trial? What law has he broken?
      • If Amir kills himself, the guy who posted the photos might feel bad about it. But face trial? What law has he broken?
        A wrongful death civil suit from the guy's family. There is a chance if they show what the buyer did was extraordinarily malicious, a jury could find him at fault for provoking the death.
        Not saying that it is right, just that it could happen.
    • by DrSkwid ( 118965 ) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @03:15AM (#15442681) Homepage Journal
      That would be as funny as Gary Glitter ending up being shot in Thailand for fucking children after fleeing the UK after his prison spell resulting from taking his PC into a computer shop and the assistant invading his privacy and finding child porn.

      The Thai's spolied a good laugh by letting him off with a fine, spoilsports!
    • Huh?

      Why would he commit suicide?

      Have you looked at the pictures on the blog? I saw some that I found icky -- but nothing severely embarassing. I mean, the gay pic is gross (although possibly taken out of context -- one occasionally winds up with that sort of stuff when, for example, using an automated usenet binary leeching program on a straight newsfroup, or as part of a supposedly straight series), and the foot thing is yucky, but if he doesn't find those to be a turnoff, then what's the problem? The pict
  • Sector encryption (Score:4, Insightful)

    by flobberchops ( 971724 ) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @01:40AM (#15442269)
    I always use sector encryption on my hard drives and wipe using PGP wipe when selling. Why not use the new Seagate drives with built in crypto now? Vista has sector crypto now? Why not use NTFS encrypted folders for your stuff but that doesnt cover caches and various temp files used by applications. This is something applications need to do, allow us to manage any possible cache and storage instaed of the currently splattered and hidden about files today. How about a standard on how Applications manage this kind of like a personal privacy standard?
  • karma (Score:4, Interesting)

    by NetMagi ( 547135 ) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @01:40AM (#15442272)
    karma, that's all there is to say

    I honestly love when ppl's stupidity overrules their lack of honesty and it bites them.
    • Splash damage (Score:3, Insightful)

      by phorm ( 591458 )
      Except for the fact that some of the pictures are of people other than the owner. While the owner might be in for some karma, how about other people who are having their pictures posted on the 'revenge' site?
      • Re:Splash damage (Score:3, Informative)

        by arivanov ( 12034 )
        And this is exactly the reason why the guy who posted all this crap is being investigated by the police. Check the register for details: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/05/31/ebay_lapto p_site/ [theregister.co.uk]

        • Re:Splash damage (Score:3, Insightful)

          by igb ( 28052 )
          Although it would be an interesting question to ask the police what crime they think they're investigating. You take photographs. You pass those photographs to me in a commercial transaction. I publish them. The only thing I can think of is a copyright dispute, and surely to God the Met have better things to do in 2006 than investigate trivial non-commercial copyright infringement? The third parties might like to bring a case for privacy infringement, but in that scenario the person who put their pict
          • Re:Splash damage (Score:3, Insightful)

            by linvir ( 970218 ) *

            surely to God the Met have better things to do in 2006 than investigate trivial [whatever this happens to be]

            They pounce on pretty much every high profile incident of any kind. The police are attention whores. Until they press charges, the only guy who needs to worry about them is the dickhead who posted the stuff, who by the way has a lot of potential charges facing him, one of which nobody has mentioned so far: blackmail

            He should have gone through the proper channels, but then hindsight is 20/20, especi

  • Fantastic. I thought the register considered itself a somewhat legitimate news entity, but now they've posted a link to a defamatory website of unverified accuracy in an article. Many, many points down the toilet in my book.
    • by Splab ( 574204 ) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @02:47AM (#15442573)
      Uhm.. what?

      They just reported it as it is, someone claims to have been cheated out of a working laptop, now he has posted stuff from it on the net and gets himself looked into by the police... Oh and theres a website for you to look at.

      Why is that not proper reporting? They don't even take sides - which is highly unusual for The Reg.
      • by iamlucky13 ( 795185 ) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @03:19AM (#15442688)
        It's not verified (making it questionable as news at best, but since it's of a personal rather than public nature, I wouldn't even grant it that much ground to stand on), it is very highly damaging to the guy's reputation (not just as an online seller, but more importantly as a person), and it's potentially dangerous (950,000+ hits and he's getting threats...some sicko among all those visitors just might be crazy enough to do something based on the rumor). The one site linked to obviously has taken a side. If there were any hard facts presented, writing the article at least would make sense, but not providing an avenue into the alleged perpetrator's personal life by linking to a vigilante website.

        I hate digging into the big bag of cliche counter-arguments, but here's a case where this one definitely fits: How would you like it if someone displayed your entire personal life (simple or shocking as it may be) in a deliberately disparaging fashion? Or perhaps (we don't actually know in this case), they make a bunch of crap up about you. I knew a guy who's personal and professional reputation was destroyed by a false allegation that was spread freely before any proper investigation was made. The case against him was tossed out in court, but his personal business (bike shop) never recovered and he had to close down and leave town. Assuming that he was innocent, as we have every bit as much reason to believe as the judge did, is this in any way just? Did those who spread the rumor contribute in any way to the betterment of society or did they harm it?
        • I should probably tell you now that its more likely that the blogger is probably just helping with the investigation for the contents of the comments on his blog, some of which were Racist, Homophobic, included death threats and just plain nasty.

          I suspect that the phrase "Co-operating with the police" probably in this case means exactly that rather than the usual "Were keeping him locked up because we think he did it, we just havent got enough to prosecute him yet."

          Unless he really is lying through h
    • by ScouseMouse ( 690083 ) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @03:34AM (#15442744) Homepage
      Two things about this post:

      The Register contains lots of biased articles. While it does contain decent articles, its usually better to get them from the source, such as securityfocus. This, to me, doesnt make it a news source, it makes it a blog with news in it. (However i have to say i am an avid fan of the BOFH)

      secondally, The police are now investigating. I suspect this is due to the content of the comments, some of which seem to bring out some very nasty sentiments - a lot of which were unrelated to the issue, rather than the content of the blog, itself, however.

      While i think the owner should have kept more control over it, perhaps restricting posting, i dont think they have done anything wrong. They decided that a public humilliation was a good way of going about this.

      If you believe the blog, and i have reason not to, the owner of the blog tried to sort this out amicably. Anyone who has been through EBAY's dispute procedure will tell you its a pile of cr*p, certainly in the uk. Other than cancelling accounts, there is very little they can do other than to refer the seller to the police. I dont know if this happened in this case.

      However, its true to say some of the UK tabloid press, have a lot to answer for, and the BBC should make an apology for misreporting and post it publically on their website.
  • CFNM (Score:5, Funny)

    by JohnGrahamCumming ( 684871 ) * <slashdotNO@SPAMjgc.org> on Thursday June 01, 2006 @01:40AM (#15442277) Homepage Journal
    Whatever the rights and wrongs of posting this guy's personal information, I did learn from one of his photos about a fetish I'd never come across: CFNM (Clothed Female, Naked Male).

    Thanks Amir!

  • and the seller... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by macadamia_harold ( 947445 ) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @01:42AM (#15442280) Homepage
    The buyer gives a little lesson on why you should always clean your hard drive before you sell a computer.

    And if you read the full story, you'll see that the seller gives a little lesson on how the law views vigilantism on the internets. Hint: Police are involved.
    • Re:and the seller... (Score:2, Interesting)

      by moe.ron ( 953702 )
      What law was broken here? Is the buyer personally threatening the seller or something? Because if not, I can't see how the buyer did anything wrong. The seller sold the laptop, hardware and all (read: software/data). I don't see why the buyer does not have the right to do what he pleases with all of the seller's personal information. The seller put his personal life on the laptop up for bid. The buyer bought it all, so why doesn't the buyer have the right the information and the right to post all of it onli
    • Re:and the seller... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Neoprofin ( 871029 ) <neoprofin@nOspam.hotmail.com> on Thursday June 01, 2006 @02:00AM (#15442362)
      The police are involved because the seller called them, not because the police are doing anything.

      It's still purely a civil matter as reported by the register and the defamatory site is still up. Score one for vigilantism on the internet.

      Unless of course this is one of those things that falls under libel in Britain because it damages his reputation even if it does end up being 100% true.
      • I don't think it falls under libel, even by the British definition, if it's true. Of course, it (and just about anything) might be considered "Anti-Social Behavior" [wikipedia.org].
      • Re:and the seller... (Score:5, Informative)

        by igb ( 28052 ) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @02:12AM (#15442414)
        Truth is an absolute defence to libel in England and Wales and I presume Northern Ireland (I don't know about Scotland). The problem is the reversed burden of proof: the defendent has to prove truth, albeit only to civil standards.
      • If its 100% true, its not libel is it?
        Libel only exists when you tell a lie about someone and it damages their reputation.
        http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=libel [reference.com]
      • Re:and the seller... (Score:3, Informative)

        by jcr ( 53032 )
        the defamatory site is still up.

        It's not clear that the site is defamatory. I'm not sure about English law, but in the USA, truth is a complete defense.

      • If its true then its NEVER LIBEL. Calling Jeffery Archer a liar and a criminal may damage his reputation but that is okay because its true and has been proven in a court of law.

        So if this bloke did sell a broken laptop and did have all this content on there, then the only question would be invasion of privacy, which is a civil not a criminal matter.
  • Yawn. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by robogun ( 466062 ) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @01:48AM (#15442298)
    However, the link about the car seller at the bottom was much more entertaining.
  • Wow. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Koiu Lpoi ( 632570 ) <koiulpoi@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Thursday June 01, 2006 @01:48AM (#15442299)
    I agree about the cleaning of the harddrive, but this really seems like useless drama to me. Is this really news, or internet angst taken a bit too far?
  • Boot and Nuke (Score:5, Informative)

    by mahesh_gharat ( 633793 ) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @01:52AM (#15442320)
    If you are selling/sending for repair, either your laptop or storage media, do not forget to take the backup and wipe out the entire content. Simply formatting/deleting the content may not help. The data will be still there, only the index (Allocation table) will be changed.
    You can use something like Darik's Boot and Nuke http://dban.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net] for deleting the content permanently.
    • Re:Boot and Nuke (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Jeremi ( 14640 )
      You can use something like Darik's Boot and Nuke http://dban.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net] for deleting the content permanently.

      I noticed that the Disk Utility in recent releases of MacOS/X also has a paranoia-erase setting: you can tell it to overwrite a disk with zeroes once, seven times, or (for the tinfoil hat crowd) 35 times(!). It's a pretty slow process, though -- doing the 7x option took my G5 about 4 hours. I can almost see now why the military prefers to physically destroy the drives.

      • "I can almost see now why the military prefers to physically destroy the drives."

        Well, that and the way that those guys destroy things is just plain fun.

    • by fm6 ( 162816 )
      ...do not forget to take the backup and wipe out the entire content.
      With this kind of content, I think it makes sense to skip the backup step.
  • by ystar ( 898731 ) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @01:53AM (#15442322)
    This isn't news. Anyone who reads Slashdot would hopefully know to delete the contents of their HDD before shipping it out to a stranger...then again, anyone who reads slashdot isn't likely to be selling a "broken" laptop - not when there's spare parts around and Linux to be installed.
  • Extortion (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Crasoum ( 618885 ) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @01:55AM (#15442335) Journal
    Extortion is basically what it boils down to; "Amir, if you want to refund my money you know where to contact me, and this page will disappear forever."

    The rest of the crap in the story is unverifiable from the information provided. It is just here-say.
    • But the photos are lovely and difficult to deny.

      For the buyer's sake I hope it's a stolen laptop 'cuz we're going to be hearing about this one for a long time.

      What this page needs are some ads to defer the poster's server costs.

      • Re:Extortion (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Crasoum ( 618885 )
        The photos are very difficult to deny, but all it proves is he does not know how to eliminate data.

        It is also doubtful the laptop is stolen, it probably is indeed Amir's.

        He also used a free service (Which supports AdSense if he took the time to set it up.), why would he need to worry about bandwidth?
    • After an intensive bit of sleuthing (ok, I found these [blogger.com]two [blogger.com] screenshots off the original blog [blogspot.com]) we can dig up just a bit more info than the Register story provided.

      For your viewing pleasure:

      The original ebay auction [ebay.com] (someone might wanna grab a mirror in case ebay decides to pull that down). Up for auction is a refurbished HP laptop with a 2.8 GHz P4 with two gigs of ram, a 15" screen and a DVD+/-RW. Ironically enough, the HD capacity is not listed.

      The seller, amir6626 [ebay.com], who is no longer a registered ebay member with a feedback score of -2 (0 at the time of the auction with only one or two total feedback tops).

      The buyer, spikytom [ebay.com], an ebay member since '02 with a score of 79 (70 at the time of the auction) with a total of 1 negative feedback.

      The bid history [ebay.com]. Of note here is the fact that the auction was sniped 20 seconds before ending for GBP$350 (roughly US$660), quite a deal on the laptop that was listed.

      Personally, I think it's quite a leap to claim extortion. I'll let you guys make your own judgements, but if you ask me, it seems like nothing more than a legitimate ebayer pissed after getting tooled over by a run-of-the-mill ebay scammer. And hey, who wouldn't be? Call me crazy, but I think the blog is great. Not only does spikytom get his own creative revenge, we all get a laugh out of it.
  • After seeing this, I no longer feel so anal about running old floppies through the shredder, old CD-ROMs in the microwave, and dissassembling old hard drives and smashing the platters.

    • and dissassembling old hard drives and smashing the platters.

      If the hard drive is still operational, just run dban [sourceforge.net] on it and it will be completely unreadable.
  • by CodeBuster ( 516420 ) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @02:02AM (#15442369)
    The Eraser [heidi.ie] program is an excellent and free way to securely wipe your hardrives prior to sale of your computer in addition to providing everyday secure wiping services including secure file deletion, free space, and swap file wiping w/multiple overwrite pattern options. I have no financial interest in this company whatsoever, but I have found this program to be a useful addition to my toolbox so you may want to check it out.
  • Heh, I think I know where that place is... looks like it's on that road heading into the toppling phone booths in Kingston... I've eaten at that place a couple of times but the shops in the background don't look right, but I haven't been there for a couple of years so who knows? It's possibly a chain, but the interior furnishings are exactly the same. Mod me down, this comment is useless.
  • by mincognito ( 839071 ) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @02:04AM (#15442384)
    When it comes to repaying unscrupulous ebayers, nothing beats...the P-P-P-Powerbook!

    http://www.p-p-p-powerbook.com/ [p-p-p-powerbook.com]

  • by AxemRed ( 755470 ) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @02:11AM (#15442408)
    Here's a link to the finished auction [ebay.com].
  • by iceco2 ( 703132 ) <meirmaor@NOSpaM.gmail.com> on Thursday June 01, 2006 @02:11AM (#15442410)
    The Israeli Army uses the only fool proof method I know for erasing data off magentic hardrives and is made up of 2 steps:
    A. run the Harddrive through a Powerfull Degauser (a rapidly changing electro-Magnet)
    B. Shred the Hard drive into pieces less then one square milimeter in size.

    However this system may be hard to come by for most of us, and tends to harm the hard drive.

    Writing a set of zeros on a sensative file is much better than deleting it but not necessarly
    enough, because:
    a. your OS may decide to move your file to another location on the disk.
    b. Even after writing once or twice over the data, It still may be recoverable, especially
          if you use constant zeros(or ones).

    Writing random data several times is a better method, but is most be done over the entire
    hard drive and in sevral passes over the entire hard drive,
    since modern harddrives have a cache mecahnism(as well as one in the OS), so If
    some one writes over the first sector of a hard drive 20 times, chances are the hard drive
    actually got something physiclly written to it only once.

    several tools for securly deleting data available on the net, I would not trust
    my good reputation on any tool which securly deletes specific files but only on
    those which wipe your disk clean,
    these too may not protect you 100% becasue modern hard drive have a feature to correct(re-Map) bad-sectors automaticly, With this feature if the hard drive fails
    to access a certain sector sevral times it will stop using it and send and use
    a diffrent secotr instead(reserved in advance for this purpose and not normally accessable).
    The damaged secotr may still contain private data after hard drive is wiped clean.

    In short if you want to be truely safe use the Degause and shred Method.

          Don't be paranoid
  • All the comments above mentions stuf like using pgp/drivecrypt or other utils to write random data to a disk before selling a piece of hardware. Whatever happened to dd if=/dev/urandom of=/dev/hda? Doesn't that do pretty much the same thing, or is "encrypted random" data better than "plain old random data" for some reason?
  • by Freaky Spook ( 811861 ) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @02:25AM (#15442470)
    This guy sold the computer and recieved payment? Wouldn't that mean the hard drive & its contents are now owned by the guy who bought it, and its up to him what he wants to do to it?

    Its like someone selling a house then going back 6 months later trying to reclaim property they left behind.
  • by apflwr3 ( 974301 ) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @03:13AM (#15442672)
    The buyer seems to be in the right in this case and it seems the seller is getting what he deserves. But I would be hesitant to applaud the buyer too much and encourage copycats... For example, quite a few stolen laptops show up on eBay. I'd hate to see someone doubly victimized, both by getting their laptop stolen and by a pissed off buyer plastering their personal information and photos all over the internet.
  • just wondering? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by atarione ( 601740 ) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @04:06AM (#15442849)
    for everyone that says it is "wrong" ..illegal ..etc for the buyer to have posted the pics?

    the Seller sold the buyer the equipment... the harddrive thusly becoming the property of the "buyer"....Didn't the contents of the harddrive also became the property of the buyer????

    Assuming that is correct... would it really be "wrong" for the buyer to utilize the contents of the drive to his choosing????

    i certainly hope no action is taken agaist the "buyer" (assuming of course the lappy was as described broken and otherwise not as advertised).

    • Re:just wondering? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Bogtha ( 906264 )

      Didn't the contents of the harddrive also became the property of the buyer????

      Yes they did. However property is not copyright. The person who took the photos still retains the copyright and could probably sue him for copyright infringement.

      Think about it - the laptop probably came with Windows on the hard drive too - would it be legal for the buyer to put Windows on a website for people to download too?

    • Re:just wondering? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Keebler71 ( 520908 )
      Assuming that is correct... would it really be "wrong" for the buyer to utilize the contents of the drive to his choosing????

      I think you are confusing legality with morality. Legal ... of course. Moral ... Maybe/maybe-not

  • by Zog The Undeniable ( 632031 ) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @04:35AM (#15442931)
    According to The Register [theregister.co.uk], the Metropolitan Police have received a complaint about "improper use of communications networks" and are investigating. Whether the complaint was made by the eBay seller, we don't know. There's also an amusing-in-a-schadenfreude-way article in the (right wing scandal rag) Daily Mail [dailymail.co.uk] today, where someone else claims to have been shafted by the seller on eBay.
  • by ylikone ( 589264 ) on Thursday June 01, 2006 @08:58AM (#15443834) Homepage
    There is the possibility (remote, yes, I know) that the seller did ship a working laptop which just broke on transit... OR the buyer has a grudge against the seller and the laptop works fine, he's just getting revenge for something else (but it's highly unlikely). See, this is why we have laws in place to deal with things instead of vigilante justice, because when people take matters into their own hands, they can never truly know the whole story or if they are acting properly instead of just out of emotion.
  • by DeanFox ( 729620 ) * <spam.myname@NosPam.gmail.com> on Thursday June 01, 2006 @09:03AM (#15443869)

    Maybe I need to do some soul searching but I think what the buyer did was outstanding. Yet, at least at my moderation setting, comments are running 5 to 1 against the buyer.

    Maybe it's because my home has been broken into 5 times by neighborhood kids. Or, that a box of checks was stolen and someone wrote $2000+ against my checking account. Or, that I've had my CC number stolen and everything from kitchen appliances and plane tickets were charged to my account. Maybe it's just because I'm sick and tired of the scum inhabiting this planet. But I think what the buyer did is great and we need more of it.

    The light has been shown on this Amir guy for what he is. Public humiliation is a sensible, non-violent form of deterrent and socially acceptable. The police publish the names of "Johns" arrested for solicitation for all to see. Even the Bible supports public humiliation as a deterrent. The Bible says on judgment day all will be known and nothing hidden and exposed for all to see. Our (USA) and (English) early judicial systems used public square stocks and humiliation as a formal sentence.

    The buyer has done his due diligence. All the documentation is there. The seller took 2 months to ship and only after repeated requests. The seller also agreed to refund the money once called on the fact the laptop was junk but then reneged. The seller was given multiple opportunities to correct the problem. He just wasn't interested because he knew he was scamming the guy.

    I saw one post "If the guy kills himself, what a loss". A loss of what? The world would loose a scamming criminal who doesn't think twice about stealing other people's money? That's a loss I can bear.

    Maybe, just maybe, this Amir guy will learn a valuable lesson from his fellow brothers that so far his religion has failed to teach him. Maybe Amir will pull his life together, get some morals and become a valuable member of our society. Maybe, just maybe he's been given a second chance to come clean and make it right.



Q: How many IBM CPU's does it take to execute a job? A: Four; three to hold it down, and one to rip its head off.