The phoner toner scam generally involves a probable victim receiving a series of phone calls.  Here is an example of how it works:

The Tricky Scenario

In the first batch of calls, a scam artist will attempt to find a new hire, temporary worker, or any individual that is willing to give out information.  They typically pose as a survey conductor or vendor of a particular company.  They may even ask for something as simple as the model or serial number of a printer.  Faced with what seems like such a harmless request, the employee agrees with no hesitation. 

As time passes, the scam artist poses as a warehouse representative or vendor and makes contact with the targeted company.  They may even be lucky enough to get the same employee, one who may remember the previous call and feel some sort of bond.   From there, the scam artist speaks of an unbelievable deal on toners cartridges that just happen to be a match for the employee's printer.  Of course, the deal is so good that the offer is based on a limited supply or limited time, pressuring the employee to act fast and get their money's worth.  While they may be somewhat cautious at this point, if the caller has already established the belief that they're an approved vendor - the employee is liable to believe that the scan artist is able to authorize the sale. 

Upon delivery, both the employee and the company are usually in store for a big surprise.  Maybe the order was actually for a lower-rate toner sold at leading name brand price.  Perhaps the case of toner contained far fewer cartridges than promised.  Or maybe an employee discovers that the amazing per unit special only applied to bulk orders or vice versa.  And now for the worst case scenario - the company is invoiced and charged for toner cartridges they never even received. 

When someone finally complains about the order, the scam artist may go on the defensive and claim that the invoice is legitimate, stating that failing to pay could result in legal fines.  They may even elude that it was all an error on part of the salesperson and offer the products at a reduced, yet highly profitable price.

Protect Yourself

The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) reports that these scams cost legitimate toner vendors an estimated $100 million in retail sales; nearly double that for consumers and companies who were scammed.  On the brighter side of things, the law has worked in favor of a few victims.  In one particular case, the FTC helped award one company a $2 million dollar settlement against a group accused of the toner phoner scam.    

If you or your company falls victim to the infamous phoner toner scam, you should immediately report this crime to the FTC.  You can file a complaint by dialing this toll free number at: (877) FTC-HELP (877-382-4357), or filling out an online complaint form on the FTC website:  You can also refer to their website for tips on how to protect yourself from the latest fraudulent practices including various telemarketing scams, identity theft and much more. 

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Fraud causes hundreds of millions of dollars in damage each year and affects just as many people.

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