Over $400,000 in restitution refunds for harmed consumer.
PHOENIX – Attorney General Mark Brnovich announced today that his office obtained a consent judgment against INT Sourcing LLC, Premiere Office Supplies LLC, Elite Office Supplies LLC, and their owner, resolving allegations that the Defendants ran a “toner pirate” scam that sent fake toner cartridge invoices to churches, schools, and businesses. The State alleged that victim businesses frequently paid these deceptive invoices as a routine business matter. The judgment requires Defendants to pay over a half-million dollars, including $419,640.56 in restitution to fully refund all businesses that responded to the invoices.
“Every business that sent money in response to these fake invoices will have the opportunity to receive a full refund,” said Attorney General Mark Brnovich. “Scamming consumers, whether individuals or businesses, will not be tolerated by my office. Small business owners need to be on the lookout of these scam invoice mailers and do research and ask questions before you pay for any bill that looks suspicious."
This settlement comes on the heels of previous full-restitution settlements with Mandatory Poster Agency and Compliance Filing Service, both of which sent out government look-alike mailers to businesses.
In this case, the State’s lawsuit alleged that the Defendants first contacted their victims by telephone, posing as a legitimate business to gain information about the victim’s personnel and equipment. Then, the Defendants allegedly sent the business an invoice for toner cartridges that it did not order, utilizing the information obtained over the phone.
According to the lawsuit, Defendants intentionally included the word “Invoice” in large, bold font on the invoices, along with several other deceptive features, including the words “PLEASE REMIT PAYMENT,” the victim’s name under “BILL TO,” and a five-digit number under “Invoice #.”
Although Defendants claimed that they sent the victim toner cartridges after the victim paid, the retail value of the toner cartridges sent was allegedly only a tenth of what the victim paid. Defendants allegedly used these invoices to collect over $400,000 from unsuspecting victims.
The consent judgment against Defendants requires the companies and their owner to pay $419,640.56 in restitution to victim businesses, at least $140,000 to the State in civil penalties, and $10,000 to the State in attorneys’ fees. The judgment also prohibits Defendants from sending invoices or bills for products or services that consumers did not purchase; from advertising products or services through any advertisement in the form of a bill or invoice; from misrepresenting their identity to consumers in the course of selling or advertising merchandise; and from misrepresenting the existence of a prior business relationship with consumers when no such relationship exists.
The Attorney General’s Office is in the process of contacting businesses that are believed to be eligible for a restitution payment in connection with this judgment. Any business that remitted payment as a result of invoices sent by the Defendants which has not already received a refund should respond to the notice that will be sent out by the Attorney General’s Office. Consumers can contact the Attorney General’s Office in Phoenix at (602) 542-5763, in Tucson at (520) 628-6648, or outside the metro areas at (800) 352-8431. Bilingual consumer protection staff is available to assist. Consumers can also file complaints online by visiting the Attorney General’s website.
Assistant Attorneys General Emily Petrick and Matthew du Mee handled this case.
A copy of the consent judgment.
A redacted copy of one of Defendants’ invoices is pictured below.