Toner Pirates:
How to Recognize and Avoid These Costly Scams

Avast, ye office managers! Companies around the globe have reported a familiar and fiscally damaging scam known as “toner piracy.” These modern-era business buccaneers have been responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars bilked by means of counterfeit, worthless, or imaginary toner cartridges. In conjunction with the worldwide toner scarcity, due to the ongoing global chip shortage, the Toner Pirate Scams are in full swing. 

What Is a Toner Pirate?

A toner pirate will first seek to gain insider knowledge about your company’s supplies, either by researching online or, more commonly, placing a call and requesting the information. They frequently start conversations with friendly or intriguing questions such as, “We noticed you haven’t ordered toner in a while, so could we send some at a reduced cost?” or “Can you provide your copier ID, so we ensure we send the corrected cartridges? We have a limited-time special right now.”

The Results of the Scam

Once the pirates have enough information, they will send a seemingly legitimate invoice to the business. The company that pays ultimately receives only phony, empty, counterfeit, or incorrect toner cartridges if they receive anything at all. Many pirates simply disappear after the fraudulent invoices are paid.

Protect Your Business!

Your business can avoid these scams altogether with a healthy amount of skepticism—if a deal sounds too good to be true, it likely is. Toner cartridge production is highly controlled and thereby only provided by the manufacturers themselves. Any third-party claiming to have a great deal on slightly used or overstocked cartridges is trying to get you to walk the plank.

Train employees on how to handle calls from unknown providers. Never divulge equipment IDs (any legitimate vendor will already have this information). If pressed, request the caller to provide a quote in writing with an office phone number or physical address. Pirates won’t provide that information because they don’t have it. If threatened or simply in doubt, hang up the phone. Better yet, designate a single person as Supplies Manager.

You may always refuse a shipment you did not place, and if you suspect you have been a target of piracy, report it to the Federal Trade Commission.

The Best Defense Against Tone Pirates

Having a Managed Print Services provider ensures protection against swindles and schemes. As a trusted vendor, we’ll be your point of contact for all office supply refills, requests, and questions, and you’ll be safe to sail the seven seas of commerce once more.


Train employees on how to handle calls from unknown providers. Never divulge equipment IDs or personal information – your provider will already have that information on file. Questions? Call Altek today!

Request a Technology Evaluation

We provide free quotes, virtual demonstrations, and on-site evaluations

We analyze all of your business technology with the goal of eliminating stress, streamlining workflows, and increasing profit. You have nothing to lose!