Did This Computer Repair Guy Do Something Illegal W/my Computer?

Updated on January 05, 2012
P.S. asks from Houston, TX
9 answers

2 years ago my laptop went blank. We took it into a local computer shop to have it checked out. The weaselhead computer guy ran diagnostics and he said it pointed to a possible screen problem. Ok. We paid Weaslehead and left. When we got home, we hooked it up to an external screen and everything came up...sort of. Although we saw everything on our desktop/hard drive, we couldn't access any of it. We called Weaselhead and explained to him the problem and he said it sounds like we had a virus. He couldn't determine that unless we brought it in, had him transfer our entire HD and run more diagnostics for about $1000. We left, telling him we had to wait to get enough money to do so, and we never went back to him.

Last year, I realized I had some of my son's preschool videos on that computer, so I took it to another computer guy to see what he had to say about us not accessing our HD. This nice computer guy ran a virus check and said he found no indication we ever had a virus on the computer. Furthermore, it looked like Weaselhead transferred everything out, and when he gave us our computer back, he only transferred the icons but not the actual programs and applications.

So my question at this point is, do you think I have a right to claim he stole my property, even after all this time? Is he legally allowed to keep such info and not give back to us, even when we left our computer in his care for whatever reason? I understand he might not even have my contents anymore after 2 yrs but still, I want to know if he did something illegal and if so, I want him to know I'm on to him and so will the police.

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So What Happened?

Talked w/sherriff's dept and they said the same things you guys have...I would have to prove fraud if I suspect malicious intent, which looks impossible at this point, unless I take it to civil court and I can try to get my info back that way. :(

Featured Answers


answers from St. Louis on

Sloppy but not illegal. If you had caught it in a timely manner he could have transferred it back but it is probably gone by now.

Since laws differ from state to state why don't you ask the second computer guy?

4 moms found this helpful

More Answers



answers from Raleigh on

It's probably gone, and not a whole lot you can do about it at this point. It sounds like he did a repair and/or recovery of the operating system (which was probably corrupt in the first place), and that is why the icons are there but not the programs and/or data. This is overwriting is typical with a recovery, and usually requires that programs be reinstalled. And you lose your personal data. I am sure he doesn't have the data and it was lost in the overwrite.
However, weaselhead sounds totally unethical- $1000! Unbelievable. I am an IT professional and that amt is totally unacceptable. I can tell you to rebuild the OS, it takes maybe a couple of hours at the most.
The lesson to be learned here is to backup everything regularly. There are cloud computing sites now that keep your videos, pics, etc in the "cloud" and not on your local machine. CX and Dropbox are a couple of good free ones that I use.
Hope this helps!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Go to the authorities!
God knows what personal information is out there now.
Was he a Democrat? Weaselhead.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

I agree with Jo W. The guy may have been sloppy and possibly incompetent, but probably not illegal unless he went on to use your information to make money or commit some type of fraud. If he was that incompetent, he is likely no longer employed at that place, and it's very unlikely anyone would be able to locate or retrieve your data.

I recommend backing up all your software, data, and media regularly. There are several methods to do that. I have an annual subscription to Carbonite, which automatically backs up everything on my laptop, as I create it. It costs a little over $50 per year (peanuts, considering the value of all my pictures and school papers, etc.)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Charlotte on

I admit that I cannot answer your question, but I would from now on use the Geek Squad at Best Buy, or HP. It will cost a few hundred dollars, but they will not screw you.


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Its possible that he didn't mean to delete the hard drive, but that is a pretty intentional act. Even if he backed up everything first, he should've run certain tests upon giving the computer back to you to guarantee that it worked as well as when brought in, if not better.

I say it was on purpose. And that his quote of $1000 was basically blackmail that he figured he could get from you wherein he would put everything back. Since you didn't give him back the PC, he couldn't put stuff back. I'm not a lawyer, but I say that you would have a case against him in that he held your personal property hostage. Given the time frame, you may not be able to pursue it, but considering that the discovery of 'the crime' was recent, you may be able to do something as far as charges. I would at least pose the question to a lawyer. Contact the police and ask them what they think.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Lakeland on

Since you brought it to him to fix then I don't think you can make a claim. It sounds like Weaslehead had little to no experience fixing computers. You should call him and find out if he did a backup and if he kept the backup files. I would not get your hopes up though, he most likely deleted everything and didn't realize it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from College Station on

This is a little late but my advice would be to let the Better Business Bureau know about this guy and his business. If it is of no interest to the BBB because the business is such a small one (I don't know how large of a business he is running), ask about a report to the city. The local visitor's bureau might be very interested in this as they sometimes make recommendations and this is one guy they _don't_ want to recommend!


answers from Chicago on

The first red flag is that he ran diagnostics and told you you had a screen issue. If you had a screen issue, you'd have blurred graphics or a blank screen, but no trouble accessing anything.


Unless you can prove that he stole and is using your licenses, which you couldn't do without knowing the key codes he installed any software with, you wouldn't have a case.
And even then, really, only Microsoft would care.

You can, however, demand the contents of your system back. And I would. For no fee. Did you sign any documentation? Read the fine print and see what you signed up for...
If he was any kind of legit, he backed up everything he transferred off of your system to another storage (I'd be very surprised if he didn't have at least some tape, if not NAS, if he's a computer guy), and that data should be there somewhere.

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