Convictions in Long-Running Toner-Fraud Scheme

You’ve probably heard of this toner-cartridge scheme many times before, but now it seems the masterminds behind it have finally been brought to justice.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California reported on December 13th that  a federal jury has found seven people “guilty of conspiracy and mail fraud for participating in a decades-long, $126 million telemarketing scheme targeting thousands of small businesses, agencies and charities.”

Under the scheme, which is said to go back to 1988, telemarketers misrepresented themselves as the normal toner-cartridge suppliers for a company. They told those companies that toner prices had increased, but that they could now order them at the previous lower price. Employees at the company signed order firms, and were then billed highly inflated prices. When victims complained, they were told they couldn’t be refunded because they had signed order-confirmation forms.

Those convicted are all California residents: Gilbert N. Michaels, who was identified as the ringleader of the scheme, and who operated IDC Servco; Jonathan Brightman, who owned Copy Com Distribution Inc., Independent Cartridge Supplier and Corporate Products; Sharon Scandaliato Virag,who owned XL Supply Inc.; and Francis Scimeca, the owner of Supply Central Distribution Inc. and Priority Office Supply.

Fourteen other defendants charged in this case previously pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges.

U.S. District Judge James Selna in Los Angeles has scheduled a May 29, 2019 sentencing hearing, at which time the convicted seven defendants will face a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.

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