Data Recovery Scam

Recently, after following a, “too good to be true,” Google ad, we found a “data recovery lab” who claims that they can recover data from any hard drive with any problem for a flat rate of $99.  Better yet, they will return the drive back to you in 100% working condition with all your data on it in 1-2 business days.  The site was stealing content from Kroll Ontrack when we first noticed it, but they are now stealing their content from Outsource Data Recovery who has been notified of the stolen content.  Amazingly, they even stole the testimonials and just changed the name of the company in the wording.

The site only has a couple of options for the user.  The first is a phone number to call and the second is a link to send $99 for the cost of the recovery.  Being curious, we made a couple of phone calls to find out what would happen.

The first phone call was just to find out where they were located.  We were immediately prompted with a Verizon ring back, suggesting that we are calling a cell phone and not a real data recovery lab.  The man who answered the phone answered as though we were contacting this company, mentioning the company name in his greeting.  When asked where they are located, he said that it would show after we fill in the PayPal form.  We continued to push and he said that he was just the call centre and that he’d have to transfer our call to someone else…after a few seconds of silence (with background noise), he just continued to push us to fill in the form to get our answers.  We thanked him for his time and hung up.

The second call, this time our goal was to see how much this guy knew.  The same process of the ring back and official greeting took place and we acted as a client with a real issue.  It was stated that we have a 4TB Western Digital MyBook that we dropped on the floor and it is now clicking.  He stated that it shouldn’t be too hard and started to ramble about them seeing this frequently with MyBooks and Seagate drives.  He then went on to say that a clicking drive from a drop was likely the sound of the spindle clicking when it was spinning off balance.

We then mentioned that after calling around to other labs, his pricing seemed too good to be true.  The other labs were stating that the cost of parts alone, are much higher than $99 and we were curious to know how he was able to do it for so little.  His response was that they refurbish thousands of drives and they always have spare parts on hand, whether it be heads, motors, springs, PCBs or whatever.  Because they are really good at fixing drives, they can do it at very low costs.  He also threw in that the other labs are scamming their clients by making huge profits from the cost of parts  (which is very much the opposite, in reality).

Taking note that he mentioned springs, we took the opportunity to set him up.  We stated that the other labs mentioned on the phone that it was a very high chance that the spring broke when the drive was dropped.  He jumped on this and stated that they were likely correct and that they can easily replace the spring and get the drive up and running in no time.  So, we responded by telling him that he deserves an award for his BS and he agreed, “most definitely,” not even listing to what we said.  But, when we stated to explain it to him and call him out for his scam, he hung up on us.

It is not uncommon to find websites that are complete copies of a competitor’s site, with a few modifications.  Even we have had some competitors steal content from our site, particularly our data recovery pricing page.  The stolen content is one issue, to which can be left to lawyers.  But, when these sites are using them as an opportunity to get people to blindly send them money with 0% chance that they will get what they are paying for, it is something that we feel we must warn our clients about.  So, be very careful of who you use for a data recovery service provider.

A very good sign that the data recovery lab you are using isn’t what they say they are if they don’t have their full physical address on their website where you can physically walk into and see that they are in a secure facility and not just a mail box or a home address where the drive, hopefully, is redirected to a real data recovery lab.