Toner Pirate Scams:  What Are They and How to Avoid Them

We recently came across an intriguing tale of a business that found itself facing an unexpected invoice for toner cartridges. The invoice appeared to be genuine and even offered an enticing 10% discount for making an electronic payment. However, upon closer inspection, the fine print revealed a rather dubious clause stating that the supplies would only be dispatched upon request.

In other words, they were expecting payment for toner that may never see the light of day.

Thankfully, the vigilant customer recognized this scam and wisely chose not to pay the invoice.

Types of Printer Toner Scams

Unfortunately, there are many types of toner scam artists looking to defraud businesses like yours.  The most common types of scams are what we call the “Toner Pirate”.

There have been numerous instances of telemarketing scams circulating the market, peddling toner cartridges at exorbitant prices. Shockingly, one particular scam in Nigeria involved a staggering 67,000 counterfeit toner cartridges. In another instance, a handful of US-based companies were slapped with a massive fine of over $58 million for their deceitful tactics, duping businesses and non-profits into purchasing overpriced toners they never even ordered.

Regularly replenishing printer supplies is essential, and scammers often take advantage of this by targeting toner refills. These fraudsters may employ tactics such as conducting surveys or posing as service technicians to deceive you into providing them with product information and account numbers.

They then use this information to send a legitimate-looking invoice that your accounts payable department will pay.  Sometimes, you will receive an invoice along with supplies to make it look like a genuine business transaction.

Scam artists will offer you an extremely discounted rate for your toners but in many cases the quoted price is for a single cartridge, but a large quantity will be shipped costing you many times the normal price.  Even worse if the supplies are delivered, they are cheap, counterfeit cartridges that leak or have clogged parts.

Counterfeit toner cartridges pose a significant challenge, causing a staggering loss of approximately 3.5 billion dollars in market value annually.

8 Clues to Identify a Toner Pirate

Want to protect your business from toner pirates? Look out for these telltale signs and red flags that can help you identify these scammers that are trying to deceive you:

  1. The offer is too good to be true.
  2. The company name isn’t familiar or only sounds familiar to your supplier’s name.
  3. The caller asks to verify your machine model number and/or serial number, address, and other company information.
  4. The company does not have a verifiable location or ship from address.
  5. There is an urgency for you to purchase now or lose the discount.
  6. The caller is friendly and acts as if they have been doing business with you but then they become angry or evasive when you ask questions.
  7.  The caller is not willing to provide references or send written confirmation with your quoted price and total purchase cost.
  8.  The company uses high-pressure tactics to get you to pay the invoice.

How to Avoid Toner Scams

  • Advise employees to never buy toner from unsolicited phone calls.
  • Assign only one person to oversee ordering office supplies.
  • Never provide details about equipment over the phone.
  • Only do business with authorized dealers.
  • Know the contact person at your local copier company.
  • Never sign for or accept a shipment you did not order.
  • If you receive a phone call and it feels suspicious, or you’re pressured to act fast hang up and call your regular supplier.

To effectively combat this type of fraud, it is highly recommended to partner with a local copier company. At KOPYR, we provide a convenient and streamlined experience by offering a single point of contact for all your supply orders, service requests, and bill payments. Don’t hesitate to reach out to our dedicated Good Fit Coordinator today to schedule a complimentary assessment of your print environment.