Toner scam targeting local businesses
By Daniel Gutierrez. CREATED Jun 11, 2013
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- Thieves are stealing hundreds of dollars from local businesses. But not like you think, they're actually tricking them into handing over the money.
"I felt kind of foolish," says Valerie Ramilo.
She says she still can't believe she fell victim. It all started with a phone call to her office at WIN Distribution, a Las Vegas company specializing in refrigerated transportation. Valerie says the caller told her they were the new supplier for her company's printer toner.
"So I asked my boss if we can order, because we only have like one toner left," says Valerie.
She was told to go ahead and place an order. But after getting the delivery, WIN Distribution owner Allen Abolafia discovered a problem.
"After looking at the bill, we got $400 worth of toner for $1,700," says Allen.
This February invoice shows they were being charged more than $500 for each toner cartridge. That's more than 5 times what they normally pay. But it was too late, WIN Distribution had already paid for the toner.
"I felt like it was my fault, because I was the one that took the call," says Valerie.
It turns out, they aren't WIN Distribution's authorized supplier for toner. It's a scam being pulled off nationwide.
"According to BBB research, across the country, this scam has cost businesses hundreds or millions of dollars," says Katie Robison with the Better Business Bureau of Southern Nevada.
She says other valley businesses have also lost money.
"In some cases you don't know where these actual toners are coming from. Are they even legitimate toners, are they just packaging, are they stolen," says Katie.
And the BBB warns in some cases, thieves are even sending multiple invoices marked "past due" and threatening to send businesses to collections if they don't pay up. They often hide behind an out-of-state post office box address, like in this case, and can't be tracked down. So Valerie and Allen want others to know, be aware of who you're really doing business with.
"Take a look at that invoice. Investigate the company," says Valerie. "Unfortunately it does go on, and you have to be cognizant," says Allen.
So here's the Contact 13 bottom line. Always confirm a company's identity, before placing an order. And if you didn't buy anything, remember, the Federal Trade Commission says, you don't have to pay for unordered items. In fact, it's illegal for companies to send you an invoice for items you did not order. If you've been a victim, be sure to file a complaint with the FTC.