Anatomy Of A Toner Scam
I had a deposition scheduled today, but the witness didn't show up. I was left annoyed and in an inquisitorial mood.
Then our HR manager wandered into my office and showed us an invoice for toner for more than $1500 from Network Office Products of Costa Mesa, California, down below the Orange Curtain.
This struck me as odd, because (1) we get free toner as part of our copier deal, (2) we've carefully instructed receptionists not to give out information about our copiers or printers to avoid the toner scam, and (3) inspection revealed that we never received the toner reflected in the invoice.
Time to use some of that inquisitorial mood. FOR GREAT JUSTICE!
1. A search on whocallsme.com revealed multiple reports of toner fraud from the same company, revealing the same phone number (877-689-5659 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 877-689-5659 end_of_the_skype_highlighting begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 877-689-5659 end_of_the_skype_highlighting) and same address.
2. 800notes.com revealed a similar report.
3. The Better Business Bureau of the Southland has a handy search function. It revealed two iterations of Network Office Products, one in Irvine and one in Costa Mesa. Both have "F" ratings and a history of complaints typical of toner scam operations. Both list a "Tom Miller" as a customer service manager — I suspect that's a pseudonym. They use different post office boxes in the two cities, but the same number for customer service — it goes straight to a recording. Both use fax number 949-715-1531, which according to several reverse directories is a land line in Laguna Beach, CA.
4. A search with the California Secretary of State reveals no LLC or corporation called "Network Office Products."
5. However, a search of Orange County records shows a Fictitious Business Name Statement in the name of "Network Office Products" was filed in June 2009 by "Mark Mushkin." That matches when the complaints began to hit the Better Business Bureau.
6. You have no IDEA how much I could find out about Mark Mushkin on Westlaw if I wanted to pay for that. You'd shit yourself, believe me. For now, several online people finders report a Mark Mushkin in Costa Mesa. They also report he has ties to Newport Beach, CA. I'm toying with spending the $7.95 to find out all of Mark Mushkin's phone numbers, addresses, and other data.
7. Meanwhile, I've reported everything I found to the Better Business Bureau of the Southland, the Orange County District Attorney's Office, the FTC's consumer fraud report system, and the Postal Inspectors.
8. If I were in the mood, at this point it would be ridiculously easy to file a lawsuit down the street against Mark Mushkin dba "Network Office Products" aka Tom Miller. Maybe a class action, on behalf of all fraud victims? Maybe a unfair business practices suit under California's notorious section 17200? I could put it together in an hour, tops. Then I could start hitting the business with deposition notices and document demands and interrogatories, and could hit the business' internet and phone service providers with subpoenas for payment records to find their banks, and then hit their banks with subpoenas to get account information.
I think I'm done playing for today. I need to get a few things done, then we're taking Evan to dinner to celebrate his family day at a decent Korean place.
But if I get another invoice from Network Office Products, or a call . . . .
Edit: I had some down time, so I just called and left a message asking to speak to Mark Mushkin.
Edited again: "Mark Mushkin", if he exists, should not be confused with Julian Marc Muskin of Florida, who appears in the comments.
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