Scanners in the Xerox WorkCentre line have started randomly altering numbers in the pages in which they are scanned.
The error was found by D Kriesel who wrote in his blog that this was not an OCR problem, just that the printer didn't like the numbers it was given and put something else in.
Kriesel stopped short of blaming elves, but it was clear that was what he meant.
The scanned images look correct at first glance, even though numbers may actually be incorrect. The problem could cause incorrect invoices, dodgy construction plans, incorrect metering of medicine and tennis elbow.
The copiers in question are the common Xerox WorkCentres, and Xerox seemed to be unaware of the problem until Kriesel discovered it.
Different WorkCentre models appear to be affected although so far the problem was tested on the Xerox WorkCentre 7535 and 7556. The current software release, as installed by Xerox support, did not solve the problem and probably existed when Adam wore shorts.
Kriesel said that the error has been confirmed by a Xerox rental firm in the meantime, and Xerox is investigating.
He pointed out that anyone who has been using a Xerox work centre needs to worry about the documents they have scanned over the last years.
He said that Xerox seems eager to solve the problem, and because of the possible dangers an immediate publication of the issue is advisable.
A Xerox spokesperson says: "As I'm sure you're aware, technically Xerox does not make photocopiers rather multifunctional devices for scanning, photocopying, printing and faxing.
"Therefore the vast majority of Xerox customers are unlikely to be affected by this issue. It will only occur if the user selects the scanning function on the user device or the user changes two separate settings on the scan ,compression level and image quality".