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Toner Pirates: How to Avoid Printer Ink Scams


Toner Pirates How to Avoid Printer Ink Scams-1

Lately, toner pirates have been prowling among local organizations looking to invoice them for toner that they never ordered. To prevent others from falling victim to these scams, we like to inform them how to avoid scams targeted at their ink and toner.

What is a Printer Ink/Toner Pirate?

Let's take a step back if you're unsure what we're discussing when mentioning toner pirates. Fortunately, they're not swashbuckling pirates scouring the seas for gold. "Toner pirates" are scammers who steal money by exploiting companies' copier and printer toner and ink cartridges. These scammers employ misleading and persuasive tactics that appear authentic but could potentially cost your organization thousands of dollars.

Signs to Watch Out for if you Suspect Printer Ink or Toner Fraud

Below is an examples of fraudulent invoices that a toner pirate recently sent.

Scam mail about toner and printer ink costing $478.50 for a Sharp MX 3110N

It's easy to see how an organization could mistake this as a standard invoice. The invoice is addressed to an actual employee of the company and looks like a normal statement requesting payment. Many companies can find themselves paying for this toner without realizing the error.

Scammers will often try to create a sense of urgency when you follow up on an invoice and request immediate payment. They are not transparent about extra information or specifics related to the invoice. If you get an invoice or receive a phone call from someone identifying themselves as your vendor, contact your managed print provider right away to determine if it's authentic. Your managed print service provider should include toner and ink as part of your maintenance agreement and shouldn't be something you have to pay for.

Printer Ink/Copier Toner Scams Tactics and Warning Signs

Below are a few red flags that indicate toner pirate scams are targeting your organization:

  • Scam calls with discounted toner prices, which often make you feel pressured to act fast on the deal.
  • They claim partnership with your current print provider and require you to place an order with them.
  • An unknown source sends seemingly random shipments of toner and follows up with an invoice requesting payment.
  • Slight mistakes on the invoice, e.g. wrong billing address or an incorrect spelling of the contact name.
  • Supposed print provider calls and asks for basic device information or current print environment details. Your provider has this information. Occasionally, the toner pirate will request your copier's model number so they can send toner that match your device model making it appear authentic.

    “Hello this is your Print Provider, can you provide me with information on your current devices."

     "Can you provide me with the make and model of your office’s main copy machine?"

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How to Prevent a Toner Pirate Attack

As you can see, toner pirate scams are real, and you need to take the necessary precautions to protect yourself from them. The following tips can help you avoid printer ink and toner scams.

Train Your Administrative Team

While you might be aware of toner pirate scams, your administrative team might not. Train them about avoiding scams and what to look out for.

Don't Provide Equipment Details

Do not provide any details about your equipment to unknown suppliers. Also, bear in mind that toner scams can also happen via phone calls, email or physical mail.

Get Managed Print Services

One surefire way to protect yourself from toner scams is to get managed print services. With this service, you can avoid running out of toner. Managed print services includes toner and offer several several benefits and support that can help you streamline your business processes to increase efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

If you ever have any questions about where toner came from or any invoice details, contact your Managed Print Services provider for verification with a phone call or email to verify the authenticity of the toner.

There will always be scams and the best way to keep your organization safe is to educate your team, or consider teaming up with a managed print provider if you haven't already. They will be able to quickly answer if you should throw out the invoice and if you are being a victim of toner pirates. If you are concerned that you may have been attacked by a toner pirate, feel free to contact our Client Success Team at AOSClientSuccess@getaos.com or (800) 346-6920 to assist in evaluating your concerns. To make a formal complaint and find other legal action you can visit the Federal Trade Commission.

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Brad McEldowney

Written by Brad McEldowney

AOS has been providing a culture of care since 1969. I have the privilege of following in the footsteps of my father and grandfather in serving as the third generation of ownership for our company. We sell and service office equipment, software and technology that helps your business or organization run smoothly. We are nationally recognized for the level of service we provide our clients and have seen consistent growth as a result.

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