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Scam Alert: Toner Pirates Hitting Again

2 min read

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EO Johnson Business Technologies

Con artists are calling businesses offering “special” deals on toner.

They misrepresent themselves as local companies or national suppliers.  Some even say they are working for us (which they are not)!   The deals they offer can cost you a lot – sometimes 10 times the actual price of quality supplies.  Companies that fall victim to these scams are invoiced sometimes thousands of dollars for supplies they do not need.

The reality on toner ordering

Our customers on toner-inclusive service contracts receive their toner from us a no charge.  And, we do not call customers soliciting toner orders – customers place their own orders with us either online, by phone, or automatically via machine notification.

A variety of tactics – scammers use different tactics when calling:

  • Pretender – the caller pretends to be your regular supplier or the manufacturer.  Sometimes they falsely state that prices are going up or they have a surplus of product.
  • Phony invoice – the caller gets an employee name and address in order to ship and bill unordered supplies.
  • Gift horse – caller tricks an employee into accepting a gift and gets them to identify supplies used.  They then send overpriced, unordered merchandise followed by an invoice with the employee’s name hoping that your business will think they have to pay the invoice.
  • Invoice collection – scammers send as many invoices as it takes to get you to send a payment.  Often the invoices are stamped “Past Due.”  Sometimes they threaten to report to bogus collection agencies and threaten legal action.
  • Brush off – if the business complains that they didn’t order the supplies or the prices are too high the scammer often tries to:  1. Bully you with threats of legal action, 2. Negotiate with you to pay a reduced price, or 3. Charge you for returned items stating restocking fees.

Steps to take to avoid office supply fraud

1. Know your rights.  If you receive supplies or bills for services that you didn’t order, don’t pay, and don’t return the unordered merchandise.  Treat any unordered merchandise you receive as a gift.  It is illegal for a seller to send you bills or dunning letters for merchandise you didn’t order or ask you to send back the merchandise if the seller offers to pay the shipping cost.  The contract is nonbinding if the company misrepresented themselves to be your normal supplier.

2. Assign designated buyers and track your purchases.  Develop standardized buying procedures.

3. Check all documentation before you pay the bills. 

4. Train your staff on how to respond to telemarketers (i.e. “I’m not authorized to place orders,” and refer caller to the appropriate person in purchasing).

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