Updated 04/26/2012 07:37 PM
Toner "pirates" scamming Watertown company and its customers
A Watertown-based company says not only is it being scammed, but its customers are, too. Advance Business Systems, an office technology company, says ID thieves or "pirates" are posing as real employees to get information and sell products. As our Brian Dwyer reports, Advance Business Systems' CEO says there is not a lot law enforcement can do and that's why he's trying to get the word out.
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WATERTOWN, N.Y. -- Advance Business Systems CEO Edward Jones has a warehouse full of toner. His company specializes in copiers and other office technology. He says the key to his 20 years in business is customer trust.
"We've worked very hard at building a name for ourselves and having that level of integrity," Jones said. "That goes for our employees. They work every day to make sure we maintain that level of trust with our customers."
But lately, Jones has received several calls from unhappy customers. Rudeness and vulgarity over the phone and insanely high bills for the copier's toner. It's all things Jones has to explain isn't coming from his office, but instead from scammers. People posing as employees, pirates, phishing for information they can use to call back later and sell their own product under Advanced Business Service's name.
"You know, we spoke to you yesterday," Jones said of a typical scam. "We have this toner order waiting for release. We just need your authorization. Someone will authorize it and the toner ships."
Jones says several of his customers have fallen victim, buying toner at three or four times what his company charges. He says it's hard for law enforcement to get involved because no laws are being broken, except the claims of being an employee, which is very hard to prove. So he wants to get the word out any way he can.
"Typically as a copier company, we will not call you and solicit you for supplies. That should raise a question to you instantly. If someone calls you or inquires to you about toner supplies, typically they're not going to be a company that you regularly do business with."
Jones says the company should already have that information on hand.
Jones says if your company receives a questionable shipment of toner, simply do not pay the bill. He says the scammers typically have little money invested in it and will not pursue payment.