An employee of a Ply­mouth printer manufacturer allegedly stole more than $240,000 worth of printer ink to sell online before police caught wind of the bizarre scheme that they say stretched over five years.

When questioned, the 41-year-old suspect, an employee of Primera Technology Inc., a manufacturer of specialty printers, admitted to selling some of the ink cartridges at a discount to unsuspecting buyers on Amazon and eBay, according to a search warrant affidavit.

The alleged scheme began to unravel in December after Plymouth police detective Nick Benesch discovered an eBay account selling Primera-stamped ink cartridges at "lower than the reported supplier cost," the warrant said. The account was linked to an address that led police to the suspect.

The suspect had also, by then, aroused the suspicions of a co-worker, who told police that the man was "ordering more ink than needed and keeping some ink which he is then reselling," said the warrant, filed earlier this month in Hennepin County District Court.

Then last month, police tailed the suspect from his work to a nearby storage facility, where he apparently dropped off four cases of the cartridges, which retail at more than $1,000 a case. Police later returned with a search warrant and seized more than $220,000 worth of ink from the unit, authorities said.

A search of the man's Andover home turned up another cache of ink, valued at more than $20,000, they said.

The man would later tell investigators that the alleged scheme had gone on for about five years, during which time he had tried to keep annual sales under $15,000 "to avoid providing tax identification information," according to police.

As of Monday afternoon, no charges had been filed in the case. The Star Tribune generally does not name suspects until they are charged.

Libor Jany • 612-673-4064 Twitter: @StribJany