It was the worst kind of paper jam.

A 79-year-old toner salesman was sentenced to four years in prison for running a decades-long, multimillion-dollar scam that caused tens of thousands of small businesses and charities to pay hugely inflated prices for printer cartridges.

Gilbert Michaels of West Los Angeles was accused of utilizing boiler-room telemarketing businesses to dupe victims into paying as much as 10 times the retail price for toner, federal prosecutors said. He was convicted with six others of conspiracy, mail fraud and money laundering in December 2019. 

Michaels’s operation dates back to the 1970s. Prosecutors say he may have defrauded more than 50,000 victims around the country over the years. In one six-year stretch, prosecutors said Michaels sold $126 million worth of toner to unsuspecting victims.

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