Stop Scammers By Smashing Your Hard Drive

Fraudsters are buying secondhand laptops, tablets and phones to steal the personal identities of sellers who believed they had wiped their memories.

An investigation by technology security firm Kaspersky Lab revealed that formatting a hard drive or sim card only hides data and scrub the information beyond retrieval.

The firm bought three secondhand computers and tested the hard drives after formatting and found more than 100 sensitive passwords and user names to web sites and online apps from just one hard drive.

The data included bank and tax documents, web site log-in details, email passwords and a scan of a passport.

“This information is just what scammers are looking for to access online accounts to transfer money or set up bogus accounts in someone else’s name,” said a spokesman for the firm.

“Formatting does not remove data, just makes it harder to find and if you have the knowledge and the right equipment, it’s not too difficult.

“The best way to make data irretrievable is to remove a hard disk or sim card and destroy them with a hammer.”

Warnings about bogus advisers – Worldwide

Bogus adviser alerts on the International Organisation of Securities Commissions web site:

  • Fortune Capital Ventures – Jersey
  • Larosa Group Holdings Ltd – Canada
  • Fortress Holdings Ltd – Poland
  • Clear Hands Bt – Poland
  • Prime FMS – Spain
  • Berkley Commodity Trading Corporation – Canada
  • Amber Options – Canada
  • Blue Bay Finance Ltd – Canada
  • com – Spain
  • Maxow Capital Ltd – Spain
  • Norapal SL – Spain
  • China Merchants International Corporation – Jersey
  • Regium Asset Management AG Poland
  • Züricher Wealth Management (Gossau SG) AG – Switzerland
  • – Jersey
  • Bradquest Ltd – Jersey
  • Helix Capital Investments Limited – Poland
  • First Confidential Securities AG – Switzerland
  • Capital Trade House – Switzerland
  • UK Options – Switzerland

Warnings about bogus advisers – UK

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) web site has these warnings this week:

  • Elendale
  • 24×7 Payday Loans (Clone web site)
  • Jacob Grunfield Global Limited (Clone web site)
  • Instant Loans UK (Clone web site)
  • Norton Finance Group Limited (Clone web site)
  • Parrish Eastway Limited / Parrish Eastway Partners Limited
  • Christopher Brian Financial Consultants
  • Discretionary Unit Fund Managers (Clone web site)
  • International Asset Management Group Ltd/IAM Group
  • Zurich Prime

Dealing with an unregulated firm

If you buy shares, save money or invest with an unregulated firm, you lose any protection offered by the Financial Ombudsman and the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. Broadly, you have no independent place to complain if the deal goes wrong and are unlikely to win any compensation.


Go to the Financial Services Register to check if a firm is regulated in the UK.

Find out how to report unauthorised advisers on the FCA web site