Sounds like a cheesy Internet thriller akin to The Net don't it?
But the missing VA laptop and hard drive are back in Federal custody. Initial examination so far shows none of the data was touched. But the technical lads at the FBI are doing a thorough examination to make sure that is true.
Why was it returned? So far not found any hard info except a statement the person who turned it in is not a suspect. Perhaps the thieves realized how hot it was and decided it was not worth hassle. After all can you imagine being charged with 26 million counts of identity theft? I would call that an incentive to turn it back in.