VIDEO: Consumerist Catches Geek Squad Stealing Porn From Customer's Computer

The Consumerist’s 3-month sting operation snared a Geek Squad technician stealing porn from our hard drive, and we’ve got the work-safe video and logfiles to prove it.

UPDATE: Why We’re Not Telling Geek Squad CEO Which Agent Stole The Porn

To investigate claims by current and former Geek Squad techies (see “The 10 Page Geek Squad Confession – “Stealing Customers’ Nudie Pics Was An Easter Egg Hunt“), we loaded a computer with porn and rigged it to make a video of itself. We captured every cursor movement, every program opened, every file accessed. Everything that the user saw and did, we recorded.

We took it to less than a dozen Best Buy Geek Squads and asked them to perform simple tasks, like installing iTunes. Most places were fine, sometimes doing the job right on the counter, sometimes even for free.

Then we caught one well-seasoned Geek Squad Agent copying personal and pornographic images and video from our computer to his company-issued thumb drive (see video above, or the logfiles).

Reached for comment, Geek Squad CEO Robert Stephens expressed desire to launch an internal investigation and said, “If this is true, it’s an isolated incident and grounds for termination of the Agent involved.”

This is not just an isolated incident, according to reports from Geek Squad insiders alleging that Geek Squad techs are stealing porn, images, and music from customer’s computers in California, Texas, New Jersey, Virginia and elsewhere. Our sources say that some Geek Squad locations have a common computer set up where everyone dumps their plunder to share with the other technicians.

If our techie readers were right about the Geek Squad doing this, then perhaps they’re right in saying it happens at other computer repair places as well.

And by the time your computer breaks, it’s too late to hide anything you wouldn’t want someone to find, and steal for their own purposes. It might not just be the photos and videos you got online, but also the ones you made with your partner for intimate purposes. Or it could be passwords, credit card information, bank accounts. The only thing stopping a potential peeping tom is the bounds of their curiosity, and how much and how secure is the information you keep on your computer.

We advise encrypting sensitive files in advance with a program like TrueCrypt (WIN) or making an encrypted disk image (MAC, be sure to skip step 6). Or, keep it all on an external hard drive and/or zip all the files and password protect them.

Who knew that when you hand over your computer to a repair technician, you could be giving a stranger a veritable Pandora’s box?

NEXT: How To Make Your Computer Catch People Stealing Your Porns

PREVIOUSLY:
Geek Squad Confession: “Stealing Customers’ Nudie Pics Was An Easter Egg Hunt”
We’re Always Looking For Porn On Customer’s Computers, Techies Confirm

(Photo: mreraser)

Here are some hi-rez screenshots. We wish the video was this quality but it ended up having to go through multiple levels of compression.

geeksquadmri.jpg

desktop2.jpg

thumbdrive.jpg

miscoutclub.jpg

copying.jpg

tacanalysis.jp.jpg

workorder.jpg

gsreceipt.jpg

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. dbeahn says:

    WTF OMG THERE REALLY IS A VIDEO!!!!

    I’m in ur comment thread smack-dowing the whiners!!!!11!!11!

  2. Flibbetigibbet says:

    “Honeypot.” Nice.

  3. jay_swift says:

    Is this work safe?

  4. 160medic says:

    He must have jumped on a flight to avoid prosecution..Ha Ha

  5. dbeahn says:

    As far as “advice”: keep sensitive files on an external HDD (cheap cheap these days) that way you don’t have to take it in with the PC. Or if it’s at home, then just disconnect it.

  6. Godz says:

    Whats the big deal?

  7. Ben Popken says:

    @jay_swift: Yes.

  8. tvh2k says:

    @Ben Popken: Really?

  9. miburo says:

    Sorry but how is this a surprise? It’s not like it proves it’s a geeksquad “policy” to steal porn. It’s just a worker doing what he isn’t supposed to. It would be hard to really stop something like this.

  10. dbeahn says:

    Dood, nice wall paper. That’s almost entrapment lol

  11. alk509 says:

    Hell Yeah! Awesome video, Consumetrist!

  12. sleze69 says:

    @miburo: Bringing this to light may force Geeksquad’s hand in firing anyone who does this.

  13. Falconfire says:

    um this is the secret sting? I could think of a ton of better things to pull, like unseat a card slightly and then bring it to a Geek Squad. See how much they charge you to seat it again.

  14. Uhm...bill says:

    I used to work for an independant computer repair shop. Believe me, this is nothing unusual within the industry at all. And all the company owners do it too. I worked for a guy who checked the pcs of every good-looking girl who came in to see if they had any interesting photos of themselves.

    Either learn to fix it yourself, or live with it.

    Be happy that most technicians are just geeks looking for porn, you could have gotten a guy who copied your Quickbooks file, stole your account numbers, and then drained your bank accounts.

  15. Fuzz says:

    @jay_swift:

    yup

  16. ThomFabian says:

    “Who knew that when you hand over your computer to a repair technician, you could be giving a stranger a veritable Pandora’s box?”

    Not to say its right by any stretch, but is this really something that comes as a shock?

  17. enm4r says:

    @miburo: Yeah, and to be honest, 1/12 isn’t as bad as I thought it’d be. I think this is pretty well known and understood. Once it gets behind the counter, expect that it’s public info. That’s the only safe way to treat it.

    Not a bad effort on the video, it’s just video confirmation of what we all knew to be the case.

    Also why an external HD is recommended for personal folders files, be they old emails, bank statements, or porn.

  18. DCvision says:

    What would everyone be saying if the geek squad found child porn or other blatently illegal material on the “honey pot”? It is a double edged moral sword, to check illegal material, and then report it to the authorities, or just not check, and not detain/punish such material. Official Geek Squad policy is going to be, of course, that peoples files are their property. But, if a geek squad member catches a pedophile by nosing into folders on a computer left for repair, are they going to be fired for violating policy? or held as an example of someone saving a child?
    Of course, if you have naughty bits on your computer, deal with it before you turn your computer over to a stranger.

  19. Amsterdaam says:

    Aw man, this guy is gonna be like

    fap,fap,fap,fap

    “You’re Fired!”



    fap,fap,fap,fap (with sad look on his face)

  20. bpotterr says:

    Am I the only one who’s more unnerved that Geek Squad charged $30 to install iTunes? That’s the real crime here.

  21. scoobydoo says:

    What if there was a file on the desktop called “credit report”? Or “bank accounts”?

    It is obvious that within the geek squad there are some that can not be trusted.

    GS should implement some protocols ASAP to protect customers data.

    I’m thinking some simple cameras that record their actions.

  22. timmus says:

    Man, this is like playing with fire because you can never REAALLLY be sure that the models are 18 and over. It seems all it would take is one 16-year old in that pile of 18,000 porn pics and you’d be bustable with a sex offender record to boot.

  23. bluemeep says:

    @Amsterdaam: (with sad look on his face)

    Damn it, you owe me a new Coke to replace the one I just sprayed across my desktop.

  24. tedyc03 says:

    @DCvision: IANAL but here’s my thoughts…

    Though Geek Squad is certainly not a public entity (and thus not affected by 4th Amendment protections), I would think that their policy should be similar to the police: plain view.

    If I contract Best Buy to install iTunes on my computer, they have no need to explore my MyDocuments folder. If, in contrast, I contract them to defragment my hard drive (some programs list the name of the file currently being moved) then any illegal files or programs I have would be plainly visible and fair game.

    Certainly I encourage Geek Squad to report illegal activity, but to actively LOOK for it goes beyond the bounds of their mission (which is to fix computers).

    And there is NO way this guy could defend himself on those grounds anyway…he copied the porn, not looked at it to see that it was legal. Not to mention his contract was to install a single program – a task that required a file probably already on his thumb drive and nothing more.

  25. falonsade says:

    you can’t always assume the actions of a handful of (soon to be terminated) idiots are the same for every best buy or every geek squad agent nationwide. don’t get me wrong – i’m not defending that jerkoff (dig), but the vast majority of them aren’t like that. i assure you, it’s not just these guys…unless you’ve taken the proper steps, your computer isn’t safe with *any* repair place.

    years ago, an agent at the best buy i worked for found kiddie porn on a guy’s computer – he didn’t go looking for it. it was on the desktop…and as the desktop background…and as a screensaver…

    …but then again, he didn’t go copying it for himself, either.

  26. homerjay says:

    I’ll be more interested in this story when you get a response from the company.

  27. beyond says:

    Out of a dozen BBs, only 1 did anything unsavory. Not bad considering the low wages and young slackers they tend to attract as a workforce.

  28. Henrythoreau says:

    Why are people stealing porn? It seems to be a constant flow into my e-mail and a constant presence on the web.

  29. anatak says:

    @scoobydoo:
    Good point, would be fun to repeat the process with bank info folders and SSNs. Though, with the cat out of the bag now…?

    @beyond:
    Its also not bad considering the reputation BB and GS are gaining around these parts. Still, only 12 data points is hardly enough to start drawing conclusions. I assume this was done in NYC? Run the test out in po-dunk-ville and see what kind of results you get.

  30. Jerim says:

    @PTWhipplebang:

    Having worked tech support before, you always, always, always want to inflate your service price. Sure, installing iTunes on the surface is probably a $10 job at most. Just a simple download and install, right? Then the customer comes to get the computer and casually asks “So you installed iTunes and imported all my music?” Um, no because you didn’t ask me to import music. Too late, you have already quoted them $10 and they will claim that if it was going to be more than the $10 you quoted, they would have never agreed to let you do anything. So you have to reluctantly import their music for them. Perhaps a few songs don’t import, and since you are the technician that they paid good money for, it is your fault. Even after you get them out the door, somewhat satisfied they are going to get it home and sound the won’t work. “It was working before I brought it up there.” So you begrudgingly offer to take a look at it for them. By this time, you have done $50 worth of work for $10. You have to factor in all these scenarios when quoting prices. Many have gone out of business because they failed to factor these things in.

  31. Venkman says:


    No wai! A geek stole porn?!! Wrong though it may be, isn’t that kind of to be expected?

    I’m sure he was just making sure that there wasn’t any malware hiding in your porno… that’s the ticket.

    I’ve got to say, at least the kid wasn’t rooting around in the hard-drive– don’t get me wrong, that’s bad– but I was expecting so much more.

  32. Kierst_thara says:

    Good job on the investigative work! Even if people are saying this should be common knowledge, it’s quality accountable journalism to go in and actually get evidence of the issues being discussed.

    And really, even if not every single Geek Squad employee does this, 1 store out of a dozen is still a pretty high rate, when you consider how may Best Buys are out there, and how many computers they’re fixing on a daily basis.

    As others have said, I really hope we’ll get to hear some response from Best Buy on this too. Does Consumerist have any plans to use the video to escalate things further?

  33. Venkman says:

    @beyond:
    Totally… porn is the only perk to that job.

  34. girlfriend 6.0 says:

    I just saw this article get dugg 40 times to 300+ times in roughly 10 minutes. CRAZY.

  35. Amsterdaam says:

    @bluemeep: What’s your paypal? :-)

  36. SliceWarriorX says:

    HaHa

    True geeks, I suppose.

    I knew they were up to no fucking good. >_>

  37. falonsade says:

    @Jerim:
    regarding gs’s $30 price – that’s the standard price for loading new programs onto a pc…not just itunes. painful, btw. paying for itunes…ow.

  38. relentlessbob says:

    I used to work for geek squad, and regarding the child porn. If child porn appears, we would have to contact the police. Looking for porn never happened in my store, but there was a case where a woman’s screen saver had naked pictures of herself on it.

  39. Asvetic says:

    You managed to catch a rat by dangling the cheese right in his face. I’d be more interested (and worried) if he spent more time digging for the cheese.

    This is more of an awareness video. Be wary before sending your machine to a professional, if you’re morally bankrupt and have porn all over your desktop.

  40. endless says:

    The only issue I have with this is that it I think instead of being a good consumer education peice (USE AN EXTERNAL HARD DISK) it becomes a simple Geek Squad attack peice.

    While they probably deserve it, I don’t think its in the long term interest to just attack them. Sure you get the fun feeling of saying they did something wrong, but are they any different from any other service?

    Though, I will say good job setting the computer up to catch them.

  41. Affinity says:

    oh snap O_o

  42. yahonza says:

    Great Sting operation.

  43. masterdave says:

    Oh wow you “hid” the files on the desktop.

    Does anyone actually keep important files on the desktop that they don’t want anyone who might sit down and look at their computer to dig through?

    Here’s a tip: I don’t work for Geek Squad, but if I sat down at your computer and you had porn or potential porn in a folder on your desktop I would look at it. Especially if you’re a hot girl with a desktop wallpaper that looks like you and your drunk buddies were about to head to the wet t-shirt contest. I don’t care why I’m using your computer (maybe you’re my sister’s friend? Maybe I’m your neighbor, maybe we’re friends, co-workers, what the fuck ever and I just wanted to check my email before we go somewhere, blah blah blah), if there’s shit on the desktop that might be interesting to look at, I am going to look at it, I’m not ashamed and I bet that the vast majority of every single person would do the same thing.

    If I had a thumbdrive on me (and I always do, they’re quite handy) and I knew I had enough time to copy the potential hotness to look at it later and not get potentially busted, I would totally do it.

    So would most other male computer users. (and in fairness, plenty of girls would do it too).

    You’re not proving much here, besides “if a person with a penis is near a computer and has the means to see boobies, they will break the law to do it”.

    This isn’t an indictment of Geek Squad, computer techs or anything of the sort, it’s just showing human nature, and that generally people are stupid in assuming anything on their computer is private at all, just because it’s on their computer.

  44. klamer says:

    Yawn…

  45. bobreck says:

    @DCvision:
    I agree with you regargding the double edged sword. In fact, didn’t that already happen to “Rocker” Gary Glitter? He was arrested for having child porn on his PC when he took it in for repairs. What we never did hear is why or how the tech found the files. Probably searching the hard drive… or maybe they were right on the desktop or set as wallpaper?

    I’m very disappointed in this “Breaking news;” especially after all the hype.

  46. aparsons says:

    How are we sure consumerist.com didn’t do this sting operation on themselves. Are we sure geek squad was even involved?

    By the time the video cuts in, we already see the itunes shortcut on the desktop.

    If I was a blogger, and wanted ratings, I may tape myself “stealing porn” and point a finger at geek squad – especially if people were demanding the “promised sting video” just 24 hours beforehand. Something smells fishy.

  47. Kierst_thara says:

    @masterdave: Gah, remind me not to invite you over any time soon. I suppose you’re the kind of person who goes through people’s medicine cabinets and junk drawers too?

    “They might be interesting to look at”, so courtesy and personal responsibility just go out the window?

  48. homerjay says:

    ratings? Really? I didn’t realize Neilson was tracking the web.

  49. …you could have gotten a guy who copied your Quickbooks file, stole your account numbers, and then drained your bank accounts.

    @Uhm…bill: Oh yeah.


    Someone stealing your porn doesn’t actually hurt you very much unless they decide to broadcast what you’re into.

    Someone stealing your music, on the other hand, could get you accused of file-sharing by the RIAA when these idiots start passing around copies of files that have your name in them.

  50. phoenix8360 says:

    It’s not a surprise that the Geek Squad employee did this. However, it’s plain wrong and I would say illegal. This is theft of data any way you slice it.

    If I hire a tv repairman to come fix my set, and then he rummages through my wife’s underwear drawer to takes a couple home with him, would it be ok then?

  51. whysyn says:

    [www.truecrypt.org] is your friend people. Free & easy to use. Once you have a laptop stolen, you’ll wish you had, let alone having a no-life 20 year-old social reject fixing your PC…

  52. Thrust says:

    @Falconfire: The purpose of this test was apparently to prove Geeksquad’s invading customer privacy, not their near-criminal repair methods. They already did that test last month.

    Now the big questions are:

    What has BestBuy/GeekSquad’s response been to this?

    Have they been directly shown their crime?

    Will this make any impact on their lack of ethics?

    Where is Jimmy Hoffa?

  53. aparsons says:

    WOW. Gawker just censored me. I posted something along the following lines:

    ====================
    How do we know that geeksquad was even involved. We don’t see consumerist.com taking the video to the local best buy. How do we know that Ben wasn’t just capturing himself and then claiming to catch geek squad in the act.

    Also, I notice that he claims to take the computer to GS to have itunes installed. When the video starts, we see an itunes shortcut on the desktop.

    It is also a little fishy that this video appeared just 24 hours after there was a post asking the whereabouts of the promised geek squad sting operation video. Maybe gawker is side stepping journalistic morals in an attempt to get ratings?”

    =====================
    PS – don’t censor me again or I’ll upload my comment, along with a picture, to DIGG.

  54. b612markt says:

    I would be more concerned if he did a full computer scan for *.jpg and *.mpg and pilfered all the results…

  55. forever_knight says:

    I can’t say that I’m surprised. But it’s a good awareness video.

    now, mind posting the pix in question??

  56. aparsons says:

    Nevermind. My comment just reappeared. Gawker looks like they are having comment issues. surprise.

  57. Steel_Pelican says:

    @masterdave: As a male computer user, I’m not going to poke around on someone’s drive looking for smut, just like I’m not going to root around in their sock drawer or medicine cabinet. Just because you’d do it doesn’t make it OK, and it doesn’t mean the rest of us (male or female) are as sleazy.

    If you took your car to a shop, and found out that the mechanic had used it to do his grocery shopping, you’d be pissed, right? You took your car in for repairs, and the tech used it for personal purposes. Would you be pissed if a cable tech, who came to your house used your phone to have a conversation with his girlfriend? Would you be pissed if your plumber started thumbing through your photo albums? What about if they took some cameraphone pictures of your teenage daughter?

  58. dbeahn says:

    @aparsons: OK, so you’ve proven you’re a complete *tool*

  59. Xkeeper says:

    @beyond:
    Somehow I bet that number would steadily climb if you claimed something needed actual fixing. Let ‘em have it overnight and hooooboy.

  60. Asvetic says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: I thought iTunes files were protected with some sort of passcode feature? Usually standard MP3s don’t have your name embedded in them unless you put it there.

  61. dbeahn says:

    @Steel_Pelican: “What about if they took some cameraphone pictures of your teenage daughter?”

    Geek squad did that – camphone video of a chick while she showered…

  62. Hawkeye1659 says:

    The scary part with this is the new iTunes files without DRM for instance. Those music files have your info on them and if some tech takes them and distributes them and end up on Bittorrent, they could come after you for distributing them when it wasn’t you.

  63. martymankins says:

    I think the bigger issue here isn’t so much the porn that was copied off, but what could have been copied off (uhm…bill, scoobydoo)… could have been worse, as others said… bank acounts, etc.

    It’s the ethical reasons behind this whole thing is what gets me.

  64. aparsons says:

    @dbeahn: Why, because I question the validity of this story? No where do we see a date on the receipt or anything. I don’t doubt that a GS employee would do this, but I’m just pointing out that there is insufficient evidence. We don’t see them installing itunes, but there is a shortcut on the desktop during this video. It just seems weird. I’m not buying it.

  65. Hawkeye1659 says:

    @Aparsons, so the receipt and the fact that Consumerist is one of the most respected consumer advocate sites on the web make you think they’d risk their reputation to fake something like this? Seriously, take off the tin foil hat and try to use just a SHRED of logic. I am assuming and hoping you are just a Geek Squad troll or something. If not, this is a pretty pathetic try at discrediting the piece.

  66. inboulder says:

    Who cares

  67. banned says:

    Maybe my eyes are deceiving me but I did not see them taking any porn. I saw a couple pictures which were hardly pornographic. Just because you say there’s porn, does not make it true. Plus, they took other stuff so its hard to accuse them of porn thievery. This is hardly journalism, I mean really. Its not as if print photography shops don’t steal you pics too. What can you really expect anyways from computer geeks who can’t get girlfriends!?

  68. LSUoverUSC says:

    This isn’t that bad. There was a txt document on the desktop labled “passwords” and they didn’t even look at that. Thats the real danger. Otherwise, you’re a moron for not locking down your files when you give them to someone you barely know. I mean, your desktop is “plain view” and so is your My Documents as far as I’m concerned.

  69. cudthecrud says:

    @dbeahn:

    I second that motion.

  70. EricaKane says:

    I would like to see the actual agreement you sign with GeekSquad when you drop off the computer. I don’t see anything saying they don’t have the right to look through your stuff. Copying the stuff is something else alltogether.

  71. Michael says:

    About time this video was released…almost a month after it was promised!

    And what a disappointment it is.

  72. Michael says:

    @rocnrule: Don’t read Consumerist for journalism.

  73. aparsons says:

    @Hawkeye1659: hardly a gs employee. far from it actually. a full report should include the date and screenshots of the itunes being installed to validate the video. WE DONT EVEN SEE ITUNES BEING INSTALLED. How do we know these two incidents are related. Maybe a college course in journalism would serve you pretty well?

  74. ludwigk says:

    I used to work at a computer service shop that did extremely high volume. On one occasion, a young, attractive woman left her machine for service. During some diagnostics, her screensaver kicked in, which consisted of NSFW pictures of herself (and presumably friends) performing various acts of exhibitionism. We operated with the highest ethical standards possible, and never copied our customer’s data, but in this instance, they were dangled in our faces rather overtly.

    On other occasions, we had to help customers obscure/manage their porn as part of our tech support. There were also several individuals in the adult industry, to whom it was actually work assets, or part of their portfolio. I’ll bet you get that sort of thing all the time in LA.

  75. EricaKane says:

    In fact, I would guess my asking them to install software, you are giving Best Buy, at least, the implied right to inspect files.

  76. joemono says:

    @Aparsons: I thought he was calling you a tool for a) jumping the gun about being “censored,” b) “threatening” to run off and tell all your digg friends how Gawker media “censored” you, c) finding out you were completely wrong, yet still finding a way to blame Gawker. But it could also be that you’re the only one claiming that this story is fraudulent.

  77. uricmu says:

    I am wondering how the technician did not notice something fishy in that a girl who could not even install her own iTunes was able to get tons of music, photos, and porn on the hard drive.

    Anyway, in the end it’s a matter of trust.

    If you hand in your trusty possession to a disgruntled employee of a crappy big-box retailer, it’s a matter of you evaluating whether he is afraid enough of his employer to not pull things like that.

    Every computer geek have probably come across porn when helping friends and relatives. I came across directories which were clearly likely to contain gay porn when helping a friend in college, and later saw directories with very suggestive names on a college professor’s computer. I resisted the urge to look or report, out of respect. I don’t expect the same of a geek squad guy.

    In the end, this is not different from not hiding your “home videos” well enough before the babysitter comes around, except that here you don’t even know the person.

    I’m wondering what the geek squad contract says though?

  78. SmarterThanYou says:

    What I dont understand is how can you prove this? It is obvious you have it out for geek squad, having a recepit for a random service doesn’t make this video legit. also, people do things at work they arn’t supposed to do all the time. how does this make for policy again? Did you even bother to take it to any other computer repair place? i guess not.

  79. G-Dog says:

    @160MEDIC
    If he did, good money says he’s still on the ground waiting.

  80. Steel_Pelican says:

    @LSUoverUSC: If you left a twenty dollar bill in “plain view” in your living room, would it be all right for an electrician to take it?

    Yes, you’re asking for trouble by leaving things exposed- but that doesn’t make it OK. Secondly, the files weren’t in a folder marked “HOT PORN XXX,” they were innocuously labeled. And yes, most people don’t keep their porn on the desktop, but I don’t think it’s unusual or “moronic” to keep your vacation photos on your desktop.

    Being foolish with your data doesn’t give anyone the right to snoop around it, let alone take it.

  81. aparsons says:

    @joemono: a) i did jump the gun on their comment system, sure. My apologies and there is no way to delete a comment (note to gawker: this would be a useful tool!). I’m not blaming gawker, I just find it odd that everyone is not questioning why we don’t even see itunes being installed. I don’t care about the full install, but there is not one shot of itune’s installation process.

  82. Falconfire says:

    @Asvetic: protected iTunes files have a passcode linked to your user acount on iTunes.

    MP3s have what you put in on them thats it.

    any file downloaded from iTunes has your name and email in it, regardless of DRM or not. Its easily removable without doing anything but selecting the song, hitting alt/command I then changing the info.

  83. Nilt says:

    I’m not terribly surprised at GS or other “wage slave” employees doing such things. As a self employed “real geek” myself, I always make a backup of data before doing anything major on a system. Of course, I inform my clients of this, encrypt it and then delete it when it’s no longer needed.

    To do so before installing iTunes would be silly, though. It’s patently obvious this was a quick snag just to see what they got.

  84. G-Dog says:

    Honestly? If I worked as a tech, I’d do the same thing. It’s just too tempting. Myself, I’d never take software, passwords, or anything like that, but I would have NO problem snagging porn.

    Until now, that is.

    Great job making XP look like it belonged to some stupid frat boy.

  85. kip says:

    While this is wrong for them to do, it is hardly a surprise. Just like the valet will go through your glove compartment or the photo developer will look at your pictures, computer techs will poke around your computer.

    If you have sensitive material that you need to protect, you would be better off using a mom and pop shop that will let you watch the tech work. Similarly, you could use a shop that makes house calls and stand over the tech and watch what he or she is doing. Or, better yet, learn to service your own computer!

  86. aparsons says:

    Also, I’ve never used geek squad but why does their invoice show a labor cost of $0?

  87. David Quiec says:

    Point taken. But you gotta wonder: where do these porn owners get their content in the first place?

    That’s right – they got it from the iTunes store. Sure~

  88. Steel_Pelican says:

    Why doesn’t Geek Squad do things exactly like this? I would think that the thought that you might be working on a computer monitored by GS corporate would deter a lot of this nonsense.

  89. Havok154 says:

    I used to work at CompUSA and some of the techs did the same exact thing there. $10 says any retail place that you bring your computer to will have some perv doing the same. I personally could care less what you have on your machine, I just did the work and got it out of there. But believe me, this is not isolated to Best Buy.

  90. CapitalC says:

    I’m a self-employed computer consultant – I make home visits and do repairs at my home office and I’ve NEVER looked through or opened the personal files/folders of my clients unless they were present or I had their permission to do so if it were related to the problems they were experiencing. I most certainly would never make copies for myself.

    An interesting case – one client was having problems with spyware. He told me he had visited some adult websites and that he had about 5GB worth of photos and videos. He actually warned me of their existence before I started working on his computer. He wanted to make sure that I was able to clean up the system but not lose his personal collection. No problem there, at least he was honest.

  91. InvalidUser says:

    My word, someone is stealing my porn and mp3′s which I used my own time to steal? Say it ain’t so!

    I do my own work on my computer. If something major cropped up (Hard drive dies with important documents on it.) I’d take it in to get repairs (well, repairs at that point is a misnomer), but other than that, I don’t see a point.

    Why go pay 40 bucks to get an oil change when you can do it yourself? Why pay a lawn service/illegal immigrant to mow when you can do it yourself for free? Maybe it’s just the way I was raised, I dunno.

    Friends go through your medicine cabinet, Valet’s go through your glove box, and if you aren’t shocked at that, you really shouldn’t be shocked that computer tech’s go through your porn. It’s a unlisted perk of the job.

  92. Michael says:

    Oh, and it’s “customers’”.

  93. starfoxmac says:

    To bump the levity …
    Classical music mp3s? You should have filled it with the stuff you had playing in the background! Who is that? Would mix well to Inaqui Marin…

  94. Hate to point out the obvious, but TWO WRONGS DON’T MAKE A RIGHT. If a technician is searching through a customer’s directories for porn deliberately, finds child porn, and turns in the pervert, that doesn’t make the tech not-a-perv/voyeur.

    My desktop wallpaper is Chiho Aoshima’s “Japanese Apricot 2″ and I don’t care what any stupid wanker thinks about that, but if I caught someone snooping I’d do everything possibl e to make sure he/she was out of a job.

  95. Hate to point out the obvious, but TWO WRONGS DON’T MAKE A RIGHT. If a technician is searching through a customer’s directories for porn deliberately, finds child porn, and turns in the pervert, that doesn’t make the tech not-a-perv/voyeur.

    My desktop wallpaper is Chiho Aoshima’s “Japanese Apricot 2″ and I don’t care what any stupid wanker thinks about that, but if I caught someone snooping I’d do everything possible to make sure he/she was out of a job.

  96. clarient says:

    I sure as hell poke around on people’s computers when they bring them in. I get bored and nosy, and I really don’t care.

    BUT – I do not copy personal photographs or videos. Worst I’ll do is copy a song or something that I want. No worse than stealing from the internets.

    The difference is intent, I suppose.

  97. belch says:

    @aparsons: What ever happened to your promise to not read consumerist anymore? I believe you said something along the lines of “I’m removing Consumerist from my links now.

  98. aparsons says:

    @belch: I read digg, not consumerist. I can’t stand the front page layout. The comment layout isn’t too bad, though.

  99. Quickness says:

    People are just now realizing this now? This has been going on at Best Buy even before they acquired the Geek Squad.

  100. taylorich says:

    @dbeahn: re: *tool*

    HA HA HA HA HA HA! You said it!

  101. jms1985 says:

    Here’s my only gripe about the video. You show just a video of the screen itself. Geek squad’s tools are easily downloadable through P2P networking. If you wanted this to be a little more believeable, you’d include a video of the technician actually DOING the work, not just “someone” controlling a screen. It could EASILY be you running the show at the keyboard.

  102. Here is the thing – you want someone you can trust, you do not go to geek squad!! I know this because I learned it on the Consumerist!

  103. cindel says:

    What gives the GS the right to go through your personal files if you asked them to do a simple install?

    It would interesting to hear from the higher ups; infact consumerist should confront the tech who copy the porn with the video; all on tape of course.

  104. SexCpotatoes says:

    You missed the most important part of the video! Ben’s girlfriend’s bikini photo shows that Ben has snared the most elusive of women… One with a white woman’s body, and a black block head.

  105. Thrust says:

    I keep my adult materials in plain sight (C:Adult) not real hard to find, but not the desktop. That’s just an invitation for snooping, be it a repair guy or girlfriend, etc. Anything softcore is right there for anyone who wants to see a nice cameltoe on Claire Danes etc, and the raunchier stuff you don’t want kids finding is packed under heavy encryption. There’s really no point in trying to hide porn, everyone has some, everyone knows YOU have some, but there’s no reason to make it easy to access.

  106. Sel says:

    I’m surprised by the number of “no foul” or “what’s the big deal” that I see here.

    As a computer tech myself of many yaers, I see no reason that a computer tech has any more right to go through your files than a car mechanic has to go through your glove compartment, unless he is working in there.

  107. *yawn*
    Maybe it’s because I’m a computer tech, this doesn’t surprise me. When I was younger and had slightly flexible morals I’d copy stuff off people’s machines all the time. Now that I’m a little older I’ve decided against it, but face it: Give the average 19 year old the chance to copy off some booby pics, videos, and some music and they’ll most likely take it.
    I’m actually rather surprised that ALL he did was grab the desktop/my doc folders. I’ve been around when techs have turned machines inside out to get at anything they could. Oh. Wait. I used to.
    :)

  108. smallestmills says:

    1. Okay, this is catty, but those girls are fugly.

    2. I have quite a few friends that have worked in photo labs, and I thought it was common knowledge that if you brought in dirty pics (or just pics with hot girls/guys in them), they’d make a double and put it in the goody drawer. I think this is about the same.

    What a lame investigation. Next time catch ‘em stealing bank account info or something. And use better looking wallpaper.

  109. consumer_999 says:

    Several are missing the underlying point – to hell with the subject matter, they have no rights to help themselves to anything on your system. They’re entrusted and supposed to be doing a professional job; you know, things like reattaching a loose cable and suggesting unnecessary upgrades. They’re not to be taking anything, even if their little geek willies tell them otherwise.

  110. ThinkAboutItPlease says:

    Ben, thanks for doing this. I don’t find it earth-shattering, or corrupt-company-busting, but it surely does function as excellent evidence that some technicians fish for and/or steal private material in computers brought into some computer repair shops. Which, of course, is totally not OK. For its purposes, it’s a classic cautionary video. I hope it reduces the frequency of this practice, and also prompts consumers to be more aware of the myriad potential compromises to privacy that exist in the computer/internet age.

    I would add a question to Robert Stephens, who gives lip service to wanting feedback: You immediately conclude “it’s an isolated incident.” How in the world could you possibly know that? (Are you God?) Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. How many computers have had porn copied off of them at Geek Squad workstations that weren’t subjected to a Consumerist sting? That figure could be none…or thousands…or millions. All things being equal, if techs took the bait even 1 out of 12 times, I’d guess it’s happening an awful, awful lot. Stephens’ statement impresses me as a knee-jerk PR statement, as opposed to a thoughtful or honest statement. An honest statement would be: “We hope it’s an isolated incident, but we don’t presently know, while we are working on finding out.” And note that honest statements, not knee-jerk PR statements, earn customers’ trust.

  111. EtherealStrife says:

    Hah! Good luck finding a flash drive large enough to hold all my porn, suckers!

  112. deepb says:

    I’d like to see a copy of whatever you signed when you dropped-off the computer (including all the fine print). These days, companies are so concerned about their liability when handling customer-owned equipment, I wouldn’t be surprised if you actually consented to something like this by signing their service agreement.

  113. Fiskar says:

    Great Video. What software is typically used to capture this in video rather than just a keystroke log.

  114. FromThisSoil says:

    I don’t know what’s worse, the fact that he hijacked the images, or that Best Buy charges $29.99 to intsall iTunes!

  115. superlayne says:

    You know, Ben, you should have done this with gay porn. Just to see his eyes pop when he found the folder.

  116. hoo_foot says:

    This is hardly suprising, but hopefully someone will find it useful.

    I’m more interested in watching how Best Buy will react.

  117. gmwilliams says:

    This story is positively despicable – but not on the part of Geek Squad or Best Buy.

    Consumerist – why don’t you try a little honesty in your reporting. It took you THREE months and how many repairs before you finally nabbed one guy who you claim is acting improperly. You should be ashamed of yourselves – this is sensationalist nonsense that I wouldn’t put past the likes of FOX News or Hardcopy.

  118. Avery says:

    The report sheet made me laugh out loud.

    “recomend memery upgrade”

  119. LAGirl says:

    @PTWhipplebang:

    that’s exactly what i was thinking!! as a matter of fact, i just downloaded itunes to my PC @ work today FOR FREE!!

    shame on you GEEK SQUAD! and shame on you for stealing pix.

  120. LAGirl says:

    @Amsterdaam:
    @bluemeep:
    ewwwwwww. i just got it.

  121. peterb123 says:

    This looks to me to be entrapment on the part of the consumerist hit squad. Far from it being something that I would worry about, as a “consumer”, I think it would be more damning on the deviant “reporter” trying to discredit the Geek Squad or perhaps to strike a blow against the mega-big-box-store (capatilist?) evil-doers!

    It could be straight up and I’d think that it’s more than believable – but hey they EXPECTED this stuff to happen, they set the bait IN PLAIN SIGHT and what happened? One in twelve took the bait?

    It’s more telling that the consumerist made up this big hit piece for which they have a modicum of creedence and all they have to show for it is this video. What does this prove?

    A young guy/gal finds some pictures and copies them? Were they copyrighted? Ownership is implied, yes, but it was bait and they knew that it was and made it more of an entrapment issue than a wrongdoing one in my opinion.

    Shame on the consumerist!

  122. bigplaidcouch says:

    @XENOBIOLOGISTA: I just saw Aoshima’s “City Glow” today. I sat through it twice. It was amazing.

  123. Melov says:

    Forget the video, $30 to install ITunes? Jesus christ

  124. loraksus says:

    You pay seven dolla, you get 7 dolla.
    Don’t know what you all expect from a bunch of pimply faced highschoolers who hate their McComputerJob, but it should be something along the lines of “very fucking little”
    There are alternatives, often cheaper ones.

  125. jerkybeef says:

    I think this is a classic case of computer techies and companies (not to name names) taking advantage those they perceive to be ignorant. Most companies are aware of such questionable practices but do nothing to prevent it until complaints are filed.
    Great post… I’m hoping this will empower people to get more involved with what’s going on period instead of just taking what they are served.

  126. 2kreative says:

    What did you use to capture the desktop?

  127. Amsterdaam says:

    @homerjay: It’s Nielsen, and Yes, we are.

  128. jeffj-nj says:

     
     
    Is that wrong? Should I have not done that?

  129. LukeCopyfighter says:

    The issue here is two-fold, but not very well explained in the video, the Consumerist report, or any of the comments.

    First, the photos in question are personal. They are the property of the owner of the computer, not mere “porn”. It’s important to make that distinction, because the computer owner is also the COPYRIGHT owner if she took the photos herself, or has maintained control of the original image. Without starting a larger debate about the RIAA, etc., I simply point out that the Geek Squad tech has violated her copyright, and if he subsequently distributes the photos to the net (where they’ll be forever) the value of said photos is lost forever. The “porn” aspect of the photos makes for great headlines, and a tempting target for the tech, but the real issue is failure to respect copyright laws by a major corporation and its agents.

    Second, although not expressly stated in the comments, reviewing all material contained on a hard drive is not invasion of privacy, even using some of the more interesting cases. Copying material to an external source for no valid reason, with no policy in place for the safe destruction of that data at the conclusion of service? That’s invasion of privacy.

    This isn’t about one tech copying photos of bootleg porn or music, or even ALL techs. It’s about what happens when a customer is forced to potentially expose their personal information to a third party. Some of the commenters were professionals and did their job. This guy didn’t, and there’s no accountability. This report starts the dialogue to create accountability in the system. Firing one guy doesn’t eliminate the problem. Developing a policy to protect the customer’s privacy is good for business (and the share price).

    None of this commentary is intended to be positive comments about Best Buy Inc., its policies, or its employees.

  130. PufferMedia says:

    Fascinating to see how people interpret this post.

    As stated, it is not just GS that is guilty of this, and if you have crap on your computer that you want to keep personal than figure out how to protect it – before you it breaks and you have to entrust it to someone else.

    In the end, regardless of liability and privacy, it’s just skeevy. Who wants strangers looking at personal photos of boyfriends/girlfriends/lovers/family while they’re rooting around for naughty bits & free music?

    Me. My tower has 2 harddrives and all my work files and personal data is mostly on the secondary drive, which I backup onto a external firewire drive. Were there ever a repair that I couldn’t perform myself I could just pull out the second drive. But really, there’s not much but work files and personal photos on there anyway. Why save porn? It’s not like there is any shortage of the stuff.

    And speaking of liability: to the dude who suspects this is fake. You really think a major blogging company is going to make a claim like this and not have the physical evidence to back it up? Whether they need to show the minutia of the stunt is immaterial; no way they’re going to open themselves to that kind of liability just for the sake of traffic. You need to spend less time on the internet.

  131. chazz says:

    This is a great Blog – stick with your core competencies. Stop with the investigative reporting. Both this and the electricity undercover agent reminded me Geraldo Rivera opening Al Capone’s vault. Much ado about nothing. This is no more revealing than “catching” a waitress selling your Amex number from a dinner check. When you catch guys making and keeping dates with underage boys and girls then you have something worth reporting. These demean the great job this blog usually does.

  132. lebronjc says:

    Hell, You can copy all my porn (no kiddie porn here) and even copy some of my music if you want, just fix my machine and don’t report me to the RIAA.

  133. lebronjc says:

    ^^^ Oh, help yourself to the porn and music but, please don’t steal my personal info.

  134. Primate says:

    1 in 12 agents copying the files hardly seems like an epidemic

  135. deadplant says:

    He “stole” your porn? that’s odd, most people would just copy it. I hope they were able to recover their porn.

    On an unrelated note: Looking at pictures/videos of naked ladies is not a perversion as some posters here seem to think.

  136. nidolke says:

    @DCvision: I knew someone who worked for a computer repair place (not Geek Squad), and he found some kiddie porn on someone’s computer. If I’m recalling correctly, they were able to call the cops on the guy.

  137. RSD says:

    This was mentioned in the MaximumPC podcast…

    Just so you guys know…

  138. zorr8689 says:

    If I worked for Geek Squad I would probably have done the same thing. If you take your car to the garage for repairs, and you have a stack of porn in the back seat, I’m guessing the mechanic is going to look at it. If you are so feeble you don’t even know how to install I-tunes then the porn “hidden” on a desktop folder is open game. What’s the big deal anyway? It’s porn. How did YOU get it? Stolen and not paid for I would guess. What’s the difference? What’s the crime? If you are so concerned about private data, encrypt it, hide it, or keep it on a seperate drive. Just because one Geek out of 12 grabbed the porn off this box proves nothing to me I like the idea of unseating a card and seeing how much they charged. That’s a plan.

  139. AnonymousC0ward says:

    Just for the record, I believe the post title is misleading. Despite what the MPAA and RIAA might have brainwashed you into thinking, merely copying a file is not and never has been “stealing.” At the worst it’s copyright infringement and an invasion of privacy, but theft it is not. Correct me if I’m wrong.

  140. jakejeckle says:

    ….so you’ve uncovered that A) males likes boobs and B) people don’t stop misbehaving just because they’re at work.

    bang up work.

  141. worm306 says:

    To be honest if you read the other article talking about the downfall of geek squad. I worked as a tech for Future Shop (canadian version eventualy bought by best buy) The problem is most of the guys that they hire are of the high school menatality. I remember one day on my day off one of the other tech’s found some ones home photo’s. They then preceded to invite every sales person in the computer department to come and see. Its a sad state that lots of tech rooms are like this. I’ve even seen non-qualified techs working in the tech rooms in both bestbuy and futureshop

  142. Trackback says:

    Xeni Jardin: Ben Popken at Consumerist writes: The Consumerist’s 3-month sting operation snared a Geek Squad technician stealing porn from our hard drive, and we’ve got the work-safe video and logfiles to prove it.

  143. Trackback says:

    More Peep Squad action, this time the result of a sting operation by the Consumerist. After hearing from several Geek Squad techies that “stealing customers’ nudie pics was an easter egg hunt”, journalist Ben Popken loaded up a PC with porn and screen capture software and touted it around a dozen…

  144. achue500 says:

    It’s hardly surprising that they do this kind of thing. It would make more sense to store that kind of content on removable media (external hard drive, CD-RW/DVD-RW, etc).

    What’s really scary is that there are laws pending that would require computer techs to go looking for kiddie porn and other contraband on your PC. See [blogs.zdnet.com]

  145. Roundabout says:

    When I worked at (manufacturer name witheld) as a video camera technician a few years back, we had many instances where customers would bring in their cameras for repair that had tapes jammed in them. One such customer was an employee of the company (his wife, actually) who dropped off a camera for repair and made no comment about the tape inside.

    As it turned out, the tape was an extremely graphic homemade sex tape of her and her husband, with him doing the “closeups” of her genitals, stripping, and coitus. No one copied the tape, but it was seen by everyone in the shop as the camera was hooked to a monitor to test it. However, I wouldn’t have been surpried if someone did later after the camera was repaired and shelved. Quite often cameras would come in with tapes similar to these. So this is not a big surprise that techs would copy something off a PC, this has been going on for many years, and is nothing new.

    As an independent PC tech myself, I am often entrusted with my client’s computers and would not violate their trust by copying their personal information, be it credit card numbers or homemade porn. However, I would equate this to trusting your accountant with your personal information, such as your SSN. You need to know who you’re dealing with. Unfortunately, if you bring your PC to a mass market retailer, this is the kind of thing that will happen. Try to find someone you can trust to repair your PC if you don’t know how to do it yourself. Otherwise, caveat emptor!

  146. tecra says:

    Just to be fair,
    Since we are talking about breaking geeksquad/bestbuy policy, how about this:

    Consumerist emailed Robert Steven about an employee that copied files from customer’s computer. He was breaking the rules, right??

    How about the one that installed the iTunes for free??
    You mentioned that in one of the stores, you got it for free.

    I know it’s againts policy to perform free service because of liability. My friend that used to work at geeksquad told me this.

    You should mention that to Robert Steven as well.
    After all, we are talking about employees that breaks policies/rules, right?

    If you don’t report that as well, that I think your report isn’t fair.

  147. anathematic says:

    I call bullshit on your video.

    How do we know a geek squad employee was on the other end of that recording? All you have shown is that someone copied porn from one folder to another.

    For all the evidence this video gives, it could be the commentator himself doing this.

  148. jms1985 says:

    I guess my biggest issue is that there isn’t -conclusive- evidence showing that someone in geek squad actually did this. No video of the check in, just a basic receipt, some sort of work order with scribble, and somehow it took THREE MONTHS to do all this, yet they only have one visit documented? Also, how do we know that they didn’t ASK to have files transferred for them? I’d assume if copy and pasting was so easy, the “agent” would be more than happy to help someone transfer files for them if they asked. Also, you show nothing of the supposed I-tunes installation.

    Shame on this blog for not providing more evidence. If you took something like this to the legal system, they would want the full video, not just of your “sting”.

  149. flajann says:

    Me? I’d never let a total stranger near my computer, let alone install software on it. Well, I can say that being a software developer and computer hack myself.

    I find the stuff about “kiddie porn” very troubling, however, because (a)there is no way to know how old the models are in most cases, and “Age of consent” varies from country to county, (b) alleged “kiddie porn” downloaded for free has no direct impact on the welfare of the exploited child, and (c) even if the models are all “of age”, a false accusation can still be devastating — you could loose custody of your children during the investigation, and who knows what would happen to them in foster care, where they are 3 times more likely to be abused than the general population. Perhaps it could even wreck marriages.

    All due to some lowly-paid “Geek Squad” snoop who has not the brains nor the desire to think of the possible consequences of his actions if he turns out to be wrong. For snooping around which is not part of his job description in the first place!

    Here’s something to do to the “Geek Squad” — create a Trojan Horse that appears to be a porn video. When they copy that and play it on their company computers, the Trojan Horse goes into action and exposes every file on their corporate computers to BitTorrent! Then we can download all their stolen porn and have a ball!

  150. erockO says:

    the real crime is that that porn sucked

  151. vertnar says:

    I concur that the real issue should be the passwords and bank account data, or the distribution of that data, but since people download virus infected files and rogue apps like winantispyware2007 and drivecleaner to whatever folder they used last, that could very well be their “My Documents” or “My Pictures” folders. Granted this should only be looked for if performing an in-depth malware scan, not installing iTunes. Also since these users, that cannot even install iTunes themselves, may not know that their children, friends, or even themselves installing Limewire and downloading this crap is what gets them infected and their account data stolen and their computer’ hijacked for zombies in the massive spam bot-nets. So giving the system a once over to evaluate risk is good business sense. You can up-sell and protect yourself if that malware breaks something after the customer gets it back home and blames you for it. So then, everything hidden then is actually “in the open” since you must dig to find spyware.

    What was that AOL survey recently? 80% of computers have it and 87% of those users don’t know it. I always look now. Most users hate spam, but yet, most may very well be forwarding it and not even know it. They are part of their own problem!

    Neophyte computer users don’t know any better, they just want it to work. So if it doesn’t, they blame the tech. So the tech needs to evaluate what else is one the system and how the user uses the computer to identify potential conflicts. I don’t care if the mechanic drives my car to the store, that’s a road test anyway. If the cable guy stole my wifes undies, now then, she doesn’t have them anymore so that’s different anyway. If the cable guy sat on my phone talking to his girlfriend, he’s wasting my time, the dial tone is all he needs. I am not worried about his time, such as if he took my phone and tested it in the shop by talking to his girlfriend, but he’s in my house, interrupting my time, so this doesn’t relate either, unless a computer tech is onsite to fix the email and is browsing my installed games or whatnot.

    Finally, I don’t trust the media anymore than those they report on. He said, She said. Most all “proof” is taken out of context anyway. Take it for what it’s worth, with a grain of salt. And if you are concerned, look for the other side of the story.

  152. GeekSpeak says:

    Good Job !!!, But… The tech that you checked in your computer to may not have been the one doing the work on it. I work for the Geek Squad, I can’t give my name or where I’m from because of certain policies regarding talking ( or in this case writing) to the press. When a computer is checked in for repair a data backup is offered to secure important files incase of the unthinkable data loss that may occur when working on systems, ie. infections of any sort, or even the death of a hard drive which can happen, I’ve seen this happen twice. Searching through someones files for porn or music or any personal information is forbidden, unless it’s needed to remove an infection manually, our tools that are thoroughly tested,authorized and licensed have gotten better over the past few years and are constantly being updated to reduce the need to manually search through someones computer files. I have seen alot of systems come through that are loaded with porn of various types, it’s nothing new, one becomes numb to it after awhile. We even have policy to properly report child porn now, yeah!, wheather or not it works, well, I hope not to find out. In the past I ran across some, I’ll never forget it, I had a system that needed a new burner installed because the old one had failed and ofcoarse we have to test our work before completing the paperwork and calling the customer to pick it up, I needed a file to burn so I opened the docs folder to select a file and there was some files that I didn’t expect to find, I thought this was a joke going by the file name, so I double clicked on the file and I can’t discribe what I saw here, I went to management and told them what I found and they ok’d the call to the Sherrif’s Dept, They came and took the PC. Well, that seemed ok until about two months later when the same PC was back on the bench, I found this out after starting to work on it, The files were still there, mind you I didn’t go looking for them, and there were more, I called the Sherrif’s Dept back and they came again and took the PC again, then about 2 weeks later the customer came in (well his wife did) and complained about all that we had put them through and demanded her money back for the work that was never finished, stating that it must have been their teenaged daughter who put it there (yea right!), the father is a grade school principle, and the Sherrif’s Dept did nothing, yet on the news they made a big deal about how they busted a person with child porn on their computer. One would think that they would do something about someone who deals directly with kids. We ( the deputies and I) counted about 60 kiddy porn movies on his system. To my knowlege they have never came back. But you see there are times that we as techs do have to go into someones files to do the job, not that what was in the video is any way of doing so, it was wrong and that tech should be removed, I encourage you to release the information to Best Buy and get that person replaced with a compitant and trustworthy GEEK. We are here to serve and protect the information community, not steal from it. I’ll have more coments later.

  153. wukwinn says:

    What program did you use to record everything on the computer?

  154. mommadillo says:

    Here’s my story:

    Back in the late ’90s I was working as a tech for an Apple shop – I was their PC guy. I did mostly service calls to places that didn’t have their own IT department.

    So one morning I’m helping this classy-looking young lady with her laptop. It needed a video memory upgrade to run at the resolution she wanted, so I wound up taking it back to the shop.

    Of course, like most people, she didn’t have a backup and wanted us to make one before we did anything. OK, her employer is paying the bills, so I hook the laptop up to our network and start copying its hard drive to the server.

    I’m sitting there bored as hell watching the files copy when I start noticing filenames like “horsesuck.avi” go by. Now, I’m a firm believer in keeping my nose in my own business, but I’m also human. So when the backup is finished, I do a quick search and check out the folder where “horsesuck.avi” lives.

    I’m no virgin or prude, but I’d never seen anything quite as filthy as this gal’s video collection. You sure wouldn’t have thought it to look at her, either.

    Did I look at it? Sure. Did I tell anybody (like her boss) about it, which would undoubtedly have cost her her job? Of course not. Would I tell you who she is or who her employer was? Not a chance.

    Within reason, your secrets are safe with me. Kiddie stuff is a different story – I wouldn’t care if I got fired for turning in a pedophile.

  155. ghostofmccleve says:

    Look, I’m not advocating them stealing files off of people’s personal computers, but the fact remains that it could have been much worse. The one thing that bothered me the most was that Best Buy charged you $29 to install iTunes. I have always despised companies like that; people who, instead of being there to help you out (like they state they do) instead, they take your money to do nothing or something that anyone with an internet connection could have learned to do in about five minutes. And if push comes to shove, take it a privately-owned computer company. Geek Squad and all those other corporate-owned “help gurus” are 17-year-old morons who had to go through some small training process and don’t really know what they are doing, yet they’ll still charge you way too much for turning on your computer.

  156. It’s sad that the real story here is that it’s not a story. In a better world, it would be a story. Very entertaining, though. Too bad your iSight couldn’t catch the Beetle-driving Geek shaking your baby or leaving the seat up.

  157. iMike says:

    Not sure why this took three months.

    PS> I like the hottie on the left.

  158. aplc0r says:

    First of I’ll start by saying I have been a Geek Squad Agent for almost 2 years. (not a no-life 20 year old as some have put it. Just like any other job it gets me through school). I’m not trying to speak for all of Geek Squad, I am hardly qualified.

    I have seen stuff like this in my precinct as well as others, but honestly it has always been done by the worst of agents. They’ve never lasted more than a few months. I can tell by even the paperwork and service orders that this agent does not know how to do his job. He also has unapproved tools on his flash drive, which is fine as long as he doesn’t use them on a customer computer (these flash drives aren’t company issued btw, they’re a self provided necessity). And if he would’ve followed check-in procedure, he even would’ve been able to see the recording process and realize he’s being spied upon(it shows up in our prelim. scans before we finalize recommended repairs).

    Yes, as some of you said, when you sign our agreement we do have the right to look at your files, however if you have them password protected or encrypted we are not to attempt cracking unless it is part of the repair requested. Of course digging in places you don’t need to be is discouraged, but technically not illegal. So I hope this isn’t a surprise that technicians of any type will look at your stuff, the point is that he copied it (which is most definitely a serious offense). If you don’t want your dirty mags read by your mechanic, don’t leave them in your back seat.

    It would have been a good investigative piece if it didn’t seem so directed toward one retail chain (albeit the largest). “Computer Repair Tech. Caught Stealing Porn” would have been better. And I don’t understand the reasoning behind screengrabbing one of our diagnostic tools with an empty window other than to broadcast that this is Geek Squad more loudly. This has happened at Data Doctors, Firedog, Compusa Tech, etc. It will always go on. Just because you’re paying a complete stranger doesn’t mean you can trust them. Leave all your diamond rings out on top of the television and call the cable guy over. Do it over and over at many different places you’ll probably lose some bling.

    Unfortunately this isn’t a perfect world and different stores are managed differently. It is an offensive act, but hardly a shocking headline.

  159. MikieNes says:

    Um, you guys are kind of dicks, actually.

    “Honeypots”, “stealing” your porn….

    They didn’t STEAL aything – they copied it!

    And was that porn YOU paid for? If it wasn’t you’re just as guilty (if not more so, as you obtained the porn directly from the copyright owner).

    At any rate, who the hell cares? These poor schmucks work shitty jobs and relieve the tedium by looking at risque data customers are stupid enough to leave unprotected.

    Really, who the fuck do you guys think you are?

  160. Trackback says:

    Tech support services like the Geek Squad are notorious for violating the privacy of their customers, and now they’ve been caught in the act. Consumer affairs blog Consumerist rigged up a PC to record itself, and then sent it to the Geek Squad with a request for iTunes to be installed.

  161. shorinryu says:

    My word! Upon reading this delightful article I was to discover that ruffian technical persons have likely rumaged through my hard disk for images and those moving pictures that pander to purient interests.

    I was so aghast with surprise at this perfidity, my monocle flew across the room to strike my favoured hunting beagle, Chadsworth, upon his muzzle as he lay before the roaring hearth fire while I enjoyed a fine after dinner port!

    Huzzah to you fair sirs for rooting out the only known time this has ever happened in the history of technical shoppes! Well played, Consumerist, well played you paragons of timely investigative journalism!

  162. mantis350 says:

    This is also quite rampant at CompUSA locations as well. As a tech, I have seen my share of customer sensitive data. So much that I had requested my girlfriend bring her computer in just to see what the other techs would do. At my location, the techshop had a computer that they just dumped all of the customer data on. It got so bad that some of the things they did were just not acceptable. Before ANY repair work was done, the first thing they did was look in the pictures and videos folder. It got exponetially worse and techs started using tools such as Cain and Able to steal customer passwords to look even further into their private lives. I no longer work for CompUSA. The staggering part is that all of the management was in on it too. SInce I have left, two managers an multiple employees have been terminated. This goes to show that this behavior IS NOT condoned by the corporations!

  163. elvisunited15 says:

    First off, do you think anyone who would need help installing iTunes has any kind of clue how to protect their PC using encryption software or an external hard drive. Techs use simple terms like “the flat, rectangular plug” instead of saying USB cable and “the program that gets music” instead of saying iTunes. Heck, I’ve had a call to change someone’s screen resolution! Some people don’t need to know what it’s called, just that it’ll work.

    I work for Geek Squad phone support and just wanted to clarify that anyone using a tech service waves the right to privacy in the course of the service. That doesn’t mean we should go snooping or copy files, but it does mean we need to open/test/check files and programs to make sure they work. So, if I were installing iTunes, I would head to their music folder and make sure I could import files (however they got them). We warn them ahead of time that we’ll be able to see anything on their computer, so if they don’t want us to see it, they should hide it or not let us work on it.

    I’ve seen people with porn on their desktops and setup services because they couldn’t log in to their fav “adult” chat group. How are you going to test that? People really don’t care that much even when they watch you check folders they know might contain “bad” stuff so long as it’s involved in the call. Doesn’t sound like this was necessary for the call – and be assured, this happens all over the place – but not all techs are bad.

    Just be happy you weren’t the woman who had a computer shop back up her files to a new PC instead of an external drive (before doing a reinstall) and then sold the new PC without deleting anything. The guy who bought it phoned her with the number he got from the files and told her the shop hadn’t deleted anything. At least he was honest!

  164. Trackback says:

    You’d think they’d know better after three months ago, a 22-year-old woman and her mother sued Best Buy and its “Geek Squad” computer repair team for dispatching a technician who filmed the daughter taking a shower (using his cell phone).

  165. Xenuite says:

    I find it to be an important point that they tried this with 12 different techs before finding a dirty one. 1/12 does not an epidemic make. Report the moron who stole the porn and get his ass fired. That simple.

  166. eltirado says:

    I used to work for Apple retail as a Mac Genius and I saw a lot of this. Especially the Mac Genii who can take the computer in the back and work on it for a day or two. One guy had almost a terabyte of stolen customer music, another looked for porn and had some local amateur footage he was pretty proud of.

    This is happening everywhere and it is out of control. As one guy said, keep your stuff on an external or know that they will look at it. Especially iPhoto or iTunes, Macs are easy to use and easy to peek at and copy.

  167. Diabolic Preacher says:

    aren’t the consumers in the geeksquad country already aware of the risks of giving off their computers and data to such support services where you have to leave your computer? its not laundry after all.
    i have very rarely seen any such tech support firms…or let’s say any computer vendor giving after-sales support to take the pc as it is. geeksquad itself is kinda new…and in my opinion a flawed concept. given the potential dangers that you have talked about, who needs to learn how to build phishing websites.
    all i can say for your folks is that this _is_ one important reason for backing up data. when the pc has to go for repairs, you should be able to format it. but…installing itunes!! rotfl well…if that’s the condition of tech help required…i dunno how many’d understand the truecrypt solution at all… you could have added a link to some installation guide…
    when people give up their data, then how are they again claiming that it is being stolen, and as far as i see its being copied, the consumer still has all the stuff.
    despite all these malware and data/identity thieves, those people still believe in ethics? on a windows machine?
    interesting video

  168. shrimppoppa says:

    As an Agent at GSC I can assure most people that this is a remote offense, and that all of us that proudly wear the uniform should not be judged by the actions of a few select bad eggs. No matter where you go in any field of employment there are those that will break the rules. For example we had military personnel beating prisoners, does that mean all soldiers are bad? We have videos of police beating suspects, does that mean that when someone breaks into your house you will not call them? I have fought for the last four months to become an Agent, and this is not something I take lightly. Geek Squad isn’t just a job, it’s a way of life. As for someone commenting about one of our Precincts charging $30 for a software install, our economy is based on supply and demand. We can onl charge what the consumer is willing to pay. I don’t see you complaining about the $7 you just had to spend at Starbucks for your large coffee. Again, all I am asking is that you do not judge all of us that wake up every morning and proudly don the uniform that we cherish so much by the actions of a few select bad eggs.

  169. JustinAche says:

    If people are going to record desktop activity using windows recorder, there are other ways around it. Another PC hooked up can search the files command line style or visually, without affecting the looks of the computer. I’m surprised if GS or CUSA didn’t have a diagnostic computer set up to do just that, in case of drive failures or whatnot.

  170. JabbyJohn says:

    First off, isn’t it a crime to leave sensitive data accessible to just anyone. Seriously, who does that? I don’t and I never have.

    Second, I hate these sting operations. They over-dramatize and over-exaggerate the situation. It’s the same thing most of our news sources do. (ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, Associated Press, BBC, etc..) This type of journalism is nothing but smut.

  171. Trackback says:

    Image via h.andras_xms. The Geek Squad has been known for their file-rifling, porn-stealing issues for a while (thanks to Consumerist).

  172. gomakemeasandwich says:

    @PTWhipplebang:

    Actually I’m more unnerved by the fact that people need iTunes installed for them.

  173. Anonymous says:

    This video never shows the Agent installing iTunes (it’s on the desktop). It’s possible the Agent fully installed iTunes before any of this happened but we can never know. Edited video = no credibility. In addition to iTunes alreayd being installed on this honeypot, all the supposed utilities on the flash drive are 1 kb batch files. The major utilities like MRI and Customizer have Geeksquad logos, System Analyzer (SA) has a Webroot icon. SymNRT is from Nortan, it has it’s own icon. Firefox has it’s own icon, etc. I call the bluff and say it’s fake.

  174. Mark Brumbaugh says:

    there’s a mac version of TrueCrypt (what i use) if you look hard enough

  175. Trackback says:

    Filed under: Odds and ends, PowerMac G5A Fairfield, Connecticut man took his Apple G5 desktop to the Genius Bar at the Apple Town Center store complaining about some issues with his image file thumbnails. It seemed some thumbnails were overwriting thumbnails on other images and they didn’t match up.

  176. unsleepable says:

    dude, who the fuck cares. it should be assumed that every tech will browse throuhg your comp. if you dont assume that and are still living in an antiquated society where morals are intact, then you deserve everything that’s coming to you, like getting arrested for hiding child porn. “ohhh geek squad COPIED my porn” , its not fucking stealing, you still have it. and chances are, YOURE the one that stole it through some illegal torrent. fucking morons. get over it. live is more than this.

  177. flarn2006 says:

    He REALLY should have made it copy everything from his thumbdrive to a hidden folder, which he’d then post on the Internet. Give him a taste of his own medicine!