Thursday, March 24, 2011

Mark Bao Theft Story

Update June 16: We've deleted our earlier posts proclaiming our skepticism of Mark Bao's account of having his MacBook stolen. It turns out the story is 100% true and the thief is 21 year old Javier Fantauzzi. We're a bit late on this update and we apologize for not setting the record straight sooner. Mark Bao was telling the truth the entire time and we were dead wrong in saying he wasn't. The story just seemed too good to be true but in this case it really was the truth. Sorry Mark, we screwed up.


  1. seems a bit like this story

  2. Hi there,

    I normally wouldn't comment on things like this, but I hate to see a lot of misinformation going around.

    1. I don't want to release the guy's name. Part of it is for my own safety: I'm already at risk of retaliation because I'm not removing the video. In addition, since this has become such a popular subject on the internet, releasing his name would only do harm. And it would be crossing the line of poking fun to simply being nasty.

    Both me and my school agree (at least for the time being) that releasing the name would be not beneficial.

    2. The police obviously have been notified and they're currently investigating the case and trying to figure out what criminal charges (other than grand larceny) they can pursue. In this article:

    "In fact, the clip got so much attention the thief returned the laptop to Bentley police and asked Bao to remove the video. A Bentley spokeswoman confirmed the man in the video is the thief and said campus police are considering pressing larceny and trespassing charges against the man, who isn’t a Bentley student. "

    I don't have the police report (it's at the police station) but if I could obtain it and take a picture of it I would have to clear it with them that it is OK to post online. When I get back to school on Monday I'll see what I can do.

    3. I first contacted the police in February when the theft happened. As for contacting the police when I got back from spring break, I was obligated to do so, so I filed a report the day I got back from spring break. The thief turned in the laptop the next day.

    4. It goes without saying that the story is true. Backblaze kinda piggybacked on it, which I thought was a dumb idea since it makes it look like a viral marketing campaign. I mentioned Backblaze only because I wanted to give them props for helping me recover the laptop.

    I feel like they totally took it too far, though. I was a little pissed when I kept seeing Backblaze promotions popping up in comments on articles about me. It feels sleazy.

    5. Re: the 40 or so days I didn't know my computer was backed up: I don't log into my online backup often. It's usually just sitting there, and I logged in this time to get a file from a computer I have at my parent's house, which is when I noticed it was still being backed up.

    I didn't log in before that because the laptop was basically a week or so old and I was still transitioning from my old laptop. I didn't really have any files on there I needed to recover.

    I also didn't think of tracking him down because the day that the laptop was stolen, I checked MobileMe (to try to connect remotely back to it) to see if the stolen laptop was still syncing my calendars and contacts and stuff. It wasn't, so I assumed the drive was wiped (as it usually is).

    Since all my code was on my old laptop, all I used my new (the stolen) laptop for was for Facebook and Twitter and for class notes (which were on Google Docs anyway). I didn't have any important documents or code on it (I was busy the week I got it and didn't feel like transitioning over stuff) ... thankfully. I basically only used that laptop for class since it was easy to carry, but I worked out of my old one.

    So basically, the 40 days was a combination of me a) not having anything important on the new laptop so I didn't need to recover files, b) never really logging in to the service since I don't need to for any reason other than to recover a file, and c) assuming the hard drive was wiped.


  3. (continued from above)

    6. Re: executing code, so, that was a combination of two things. First, I was kinda really excited to find out I had access to the backed-up files that I thought of what possibilities there were, and forgot that I couldn't edit the files, only download them. Kind of dumb, yeah.

    In addition, I also thought I could screen share back into the laptop since it wasn't wiped, but of course, I forgot that my MobileMe account was no longer synced with the computer.

    So that was a bit of a miscalculation on my part.

    7. Yes, I actually use the backup service. That June thing was real. I have a huge iTunes library and I've been through library corruptions before (they suck). I work on startups myself, so I like to give ups to the startups that help me out in my day-to-day.


    The thief won't fess up that the whole thing was a lie and cover himself so he's not seen as a thief because... he is a thief.

    I'm not out to create a buzz or go viral... both my first viral thing ( and this thing have gotten me completely by surprise. My goal isn't to create a buzz, but rather to create products people use. All this was kind of a distraction from that.

    Let me see what I can dig up for you that helps me prove that the story is true (like that police report). I don't like using my time on this, and this whole thing was a huge distraction from my regular work, but if you're open to being convinced otherwise, I wouldn't be opposed to helping. Thanks.

  4. Mark thanks for the comments and laying that out. I have to wonder though, if you're worried about your safety with this guy why your main concern isn't having this guy locked up, as opposed to making fun of him? You're obviously not THAT worried about repercussions if you posted the video and still have it up. There's not much difference between releasing the video and releasing the video with his name as far as the thief is concerned. Shouldn't people be aware that there's a thief running around on campus and who he is? Why hasn't he been kicked out of school? I understand the humorous nature of the story and video, but..on one hand you're treating it too lightly and then on the other hand you're acting like your life is in danger. I am still suspicious of the story and would like to hear the outcome, but again I appreciate your comments.

  5. Well I guess nevermind about kicking him out of school, I see in the article it says the thief isn't a Bentley student. In one twitter post though you say "He won't travel (he's at my school.)" He doesn't go to school there but somehow you knew he was there and were confident he wasn't going anywhere? Please explain.

    And if it's the case that he isn't a student there and is some douchebag going on campuses to steal property, then lets hear his fucking name already. If that's true, why hold back? Give us his name privately and we'll release it, saying we tracked him down...if you don't want to do it personally. And if we were wrong we will apologize and correct our postings, we're not unreasonable here. But still..not entirely convinced.

  6. Hey,

    Yeah... I also was wrong about him being at my college. I looked him up on Facebook and we had 9 mutual friends (most of them in the same dorm building as me) so I assumed he went to my school (both because of that and because my laptop was stolen from inside the dorm building, which is keycard-locked). Turns out it was only because his girlfriend went to Bentley and lived in the same building, so he's around there often.

    I'm pretty worried about the repercussions, actually. I'm considering taking it down due to pressure from a lot of people. It's a problem since it's gone way past the point that I can still control it. The video is reposted on CollegeHumor, other copies exist on YouTube, screencaps of the video are on websites and (not kidding) front pages of newspapers. He's already pretty angry, I think. If his name is released, it'll go all over the web, and I'd be at much higher risk for retaliation. I would not be surprised if my school and the school's police department urge me not to release the name.

    So I think there is a pretty big difference between releasing his name and just posting the video. The video, while widespread, is not directly connected to him. If his name was released, though, he'd see his name plastered over newspapers and articles. It's like saying that the economy is corrupt and then pointing out a specific company that's doing corrupt actions. It moves it from humiliation for himself and for his friends but generally nothing hugely damaging long-term (of course, this is talking about the video, not the charges) to me completely ruining his name and image in one fell swoop. If his video is released, he isn't directly affected long-term... if his name is released, that's a direct blow against him. Does that make sense?

    Anyway, I hope this cleared it up a little bit. I'm trying to get back to regular work since this whole week has been pretty much a distraction due to this thing. If I can get the permission to post a name you'll hear about it. Thanks for understanding.


  7. Mark I just don't understand the logic of you being okay with the video being out, but not wanting to release the name, when the reality should be the opposite. Criminals' names are always released, as they should be, yet posting his private videos would be the thing that would be considered pushing it. Releasing that video is worse than just naming a suspect. And you've already done the former.

    And you not having control over it just isn't convincing to me. You could start by removing it from your youtube page, and you could contact those sites to have it removed. Sure, there's no guarantee you can remove it from every crevice and back corner of the internet, but you're not even making an attempt, so you really don't know to what extent it's in or out of your hands.

    Someone brought up an interesting point about who owns the copyright on that video, if your story is true it could be that you don't and the thief does. If he does in fact own the rights to it, well you have already been contacted by him and told to take the video down. So perhaps this could end in court and would be an interesting case. Does using a stolen device to record material nullify ones rights to it? I don't know.

  8. Sorry Mark, doesn't pass the smell test. This is a TOTAL HOAX! If a college would prefer an alleged known non student thief's name not be released, they are risking the security of that whole dorm, plus if he was seen around the dorm a lot and has 9 mutual friends, why would you be scared of him? Plus if he is known around your dorm how come your fellow students haven't outed him, I would!

    You seem to be a smart guy, but your excuses just don't explain the gaps, lies and nonsense...if you were truly interested in your safety, you wouldn't post that video, you would demand this "thief" be banned from visiting his GF on campus, and you would PRESS CHARGES AND RELEASE HIS NAME...way to dupe a bunch of idiots who don't see the truth behind the BS...

  9. thanks for the comment mayethorpedogrescuegirl, I agree. If anyone reading this goes to Bentley or is in the area and has insight into who the guy in the video is, please leave a comment and let us know.

  10. Just a note about backblaze. I'm not sure how long it takes to place your files on a new computer (because the old one is broken or stolen), but to PUT files on backblaze the first time, it took 2 SOLID months of uploading files 24/7 before my hard drive was completely backed up on this service. SO I'm just playing devils advocate here, if he were downloading files on to a new computer, the delay may be a result of the backblaze service being slow (being around 40 days).

  11. Not sure how to contact you but I write for a paper in Bao's hometown and just wrote a story publishing the name of the thief. This kind of clears up much of the hoax question

  12. Hi -

    I also wondered if there might be something fishy here... but it turns out that charges have been filed in Waltham District Court against the alleged thief. I posted some of the court documents about the case here:

    Scott Kirsner
    Boston Globe

  13. Here are the police reports.


  14. Hi,

    Good Work Mark. I appreciate your honor in not releasing the perp's name. Everyone deserves a second chance. Too many people want to "punish". What you have done is humiliate without taking it too far.