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This guy made an absolute killing selling overpriced printer toner – now he’s going to jail for it

He’s been running the scam for decades.

brother printer toner on side table
Image: Brother

Gilbert Micheals is going to federal prison for four years for selling overpriced printer toner. That sounds a little ridiculous right? But this isn’t a case of a guy squeezing a few extra bucks from some unsuspecting customers. This guy spent several decades scamming more than 50,000 customers and hundreds of millions of dollars.

In a recent press release from the Department of Justice, it was revealed that Gilbert Micheals, who owned and operated IDC Servco and Mytel International, had been running a massive scam for decades. Micheals’ companies operated a scheme involving a toner selling company and several call centers.

The plan worked like this: The toner company sells toner to the call centers at retail or above retail price. The call centers then pressured their customers into buying toner at an extremely inflated price. With the legendary high price of printer ink, there was a lot of room for a scheme like this to succeed.

These call centers would disguise themselves as a company’s regular supplier of toner and enact its strategy: Call center employees would tell their customers that toner price had gone up but that they had a chance to buy in bulk before the price rose even further.  

“Believing that they were dealing with their regular supplier of toner, employees at the victim businesses and organizations signed order confirmation forms,” says the Justice Department report. Once those forms were signed, customers were forced to pay, or they’d be threatened with lawsuits.

Micheals initially came under the Justice Department’s radar way back in 1988, and it’s unclear how he was allowed to continue his operation for so long. Still, he has now been caught and found guilty of several white-collar crimes and he’ll be headed to the slammer for a few years.

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