Wednesday, July 11, 2012

HUGE Coupon Fraud Ring arrested yesterday (Plus tips on unknowingly getting involved in coupon fraud)

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Coupons seized in the bust
Yesterday afternoon a HUGE counterfeit coupon operation was busted in Phoenix Arizona. One of the moms in my CityMommy network,. Maggie from MyBatonRougeMommy commented about this site a couple months ago warning her readers to not purchase any coupons from this site. 
This is the information from azfamily.com:
PHOENIX — Authorities took three women into custody, raided three homes and seized valuable property on Tuesday as part of what police are calling a “first of its kind” case in the United States.
According to investigators, more than 40 of the Nation’s largest manufacturers have fallen victim to a new kind of coupon forgery and counterfeiting.
Approximately 4 years ago, extremely high quality copies of manufacturer’s coupons began to surface in the United States from an unknown source.
The companies that were targeted in this apparent scam, in conjunction with the Coupon Information Corporation (CIC) hired private investigators to find out where the coupons were being sold in the United States.
These investigators discovered most of the fake coupons were being used in Arizona. Investigators also found that the coupons were being sold through the website, Savvyshoppersite.com. The site was doing business as Savvy Shopper, but is in no way related to the local consumer magazine.
The Phoenix Police Department working in conjunction with the private sector, members of the FBI Internet crimes unit and internal resources, put a case together to prosecute the people behind this alleged fraudulent coupon site.
“This is an international investigation because we know that the coupons we’re talking about were not manufactured here in the United States but they were shipped here and then distributed via the Internet and other media outlets,” said Officer James Holmes with the Phoenix Police Dept.
Police seized boxes of coupons, vehicles, guns and other property. Investigators say those coupons are worth about $25 million dollars.
Police say the scope of the investigation and the economic impact are massive with hundreds of millions of dollars in losses.
“We’re talking about anywhere from $400 to $600 million in loss,” said Holmes. “This is to American companies who produced American products and hire American citizens.”
According to police the ringleader of the illegal enterprise was Robin Ramirez, 40. They also arrested Marilyn Johnson, 61 and Amiko (Amy) Fountain, 42. Johnson and Fountain are described as assistants.
“She [Ramirez] would bring in these coupons from overseas in large quantities, quantities we never could imagine and she would sell them on her website for about 50 percent of face value,” said Sgt. Davide Lake with the Phoenix Police Dept.
The Coupon Information Corporation is calling this the largest counterfeit coupon case the industry has ever seen.
“They are variations, reproductions of what were at one point legitimate coupons,” said Bud Miller with the Coupon Information Corporation.
So the coupons often worked and as a result manufacturers lost millions.
Miller said consumers should never pay money for coupons.
“If you’re a consumer out there and you purchased coupons from this website you certainly should not use the. You are subject to arrest,” said Miller.
Holmes said that people who knowingly use the fake coupons are committing a Class 6 felony.
The three suspects in custody are facing multiple charges including operating an illegal enterprise, forgery, money laundering, and counterfeiting.
*I’m sure we will find out much more as the case unfolds but the main thing to remember is that we have to follow coupon policies and coupon ethics anytime we use coupons.
For more information and tips check out this statement from the Executive Director of the CIC.

How to tell if your coupon is a fake? Well, I first discussed coupon fraud way back in 2010 when I first started MyCNYMommy. You can read that post here:

For a printable coupon, here are the basics that stores use to determine if they are "fake".


To put this into lay person terms:
  1. The unique 2-D barcode on the upper left is a different number for every coupon you print, even for a second print of the same coupon.
  2. The dotted line around the entire coupon is really text. It has your user id, the date and time and coupon offer information printed - repeating at least 35 times around the coupon. This is also printed at the bottom of the expiration date box.
  3. The long barcode at the bottom also has a portion of the unique 2-D barcode number in it. These barcodes are much more specific and very soon will be the barcode that is scanned in all stores!
  4. For some coupons (mainly coupon.com powered coupons) - there are yellow circles (for color printed) and gray circles (for black & white/gray scale printed). This along with a verifi #, indicate the coupon is valid.
Other tips to tell if non-printables are fake:

*Generally coupons from manufacturer's come with an official seal on them, especially if they have been given out in masses like through a facebook offer. 

* You can always call a company's customer service number and ask if the coupon you have is fake. 

*If you received a free offer coupon direct from the manufacturer for a problem you had with one of their products (or a compliment!) you can bring along the accompanying letter to show the store when you use the coupons.

*Check to see if your coupon is listed on the list of Fraudulent Coupons put out by the Coupon Information Center. The list is updated every time a fraudulent coupon is discovered.

*And, if a coupon's value is extremely high - most likely it IS too good to be true.

Tell me,what do you think about this story?


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Hostess with the Mostess.. Flirty Aprons on Sale as low as $14.97

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Do you entertain a lot inside in the fall and winter? And, are you messy like me and inevitably end up wearing what you are serving? I swear sometimes I am no better than my kids! It's a good thing then that there are sales like these!

Flirty Aprons has their 3 of most popular styles on sale for 50% off: Sassy Black, Sugar n’ Spice and Frosted Cupcake. Just use the coupon code: FLASH at checkout to get these for as low as $14.97. Sale is through July 12th.

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Under $1 Deals at Target this Week (July 8th-14th)

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Here are the $1 and under deals at Target now thru 7/14!

Buy 1 Glade Expressions Fragrance Mist Starter Kit, $2.98
Submit the Try Me Free Rebate *you will need this form and the hangtag.
Use $1/1 Glade Expressions Fragrance Mist Starter Kit Coupon
Final Cost, Free + $1 Money Maker
Up & Up peroxide, $0.54
Use: $0.75 off Up & Up First Aid Product Target Coupon
Final Price, FREE!
Up & Up Witch Hazel, $1.44
$0.75/1 Up & Up First Aid Product Target Coupon
$0.69 ea. after coupon!
Up & Up Bandages, $1.39
$0.75/1 Up & Up First Aid Product Target Coupon
$0.64 ea. after coupon!
Up & Up Alcohol, $1.24
$0.75/1 Up & Up First Aid Product Target Coupon
$0.49 ea. after coupon!
Up & Up Small Gauze Pads, $1.42
$0.75/1 Up & Up First Aid Product Target Coupon
$0.67 ea. after coupon!
Extra Gum (3 pk.) – $1.50
$0.50/2 Extra Gum printable
$0.50/2 Extra Gum, exp. 7/31/12 (ALL YOU June ’12)
$0.50/1 Extra Gum, exp. 8/31/12 (ALL YOU July ’12)
As low as $1 each after coupon
Oscar Mayer Lunchables (3.1-4.4 oz.) – $1.00
$1/2 Oscar Mayer Lunchables or Deli Fresh Meats, exp. 9/30/12 (Kraft Foods Comida y Familia Booklet )
$1/2 Oscar Mayer Lunchables Items Target printable
As low as FREE each wyb 2 after stacked coupons
Chobani Greek Yogurt (6 oz.) – $1.00
$0.30/1 Chobani Greek Yogurt printable
$0.70 each after coupon
In-Store Digital Prints (4×6 in.) – $0.10
$1/10 Target Digital Prints Target printable
$5/50 Digital Prints (4×6 in.) @Target Photo Lab (Shopkick)
As low as FREE each after coupon
Pepsi Brand Soda (2 ltr.) – $1.25
$0.50/1 Pepsi Next Soda @Target, exp. 7/21/12 (RP 06/17/12)
$0.75 each after coupon
Scrubbing Bubbles Cleaner – $2.50
$1/2 Windex, Scrubbing Bubbles or Fantastik printable
$2/2 Scrubbing Bubbles Bathroom Cleaner, exp. 7-7-12 (Parenting Early Years, Apr)
$2/2 Scrubbing Bubbles Bathroom Cleaner, exp. 7-7-12 (Food Network, Apr)
$1/2 Scrubbing Bubbles Product Target printable
**More Scrubbing Bubbles Coupons in the coupon database
As low as $1 each wyb 2 after stacked coupons


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Ends Today: 99 cents for 99 Prints from Snapfish!

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Grab those 4th of July pics and then hurry over to Snapfish because right now you can get 99 prints for 99 cents with the coupon code: FIREWORKS at checkout.
Offer ends tonight, July 11th 11:59PM EST.

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Redbox Movies: B2G1 FREE

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When the rainy days hit movies are a great way to spend family time. And if you can SAVE on the movies even better! Through July 22nd when you rent 2 family movies at any RedBox you can get 1 for FREE! PLUS you can earn up to 1 promo code per day..
All you need to do is go to a kiosk and rent any two select family movies or games in a single transaction between now and July 22 and enter your email address at checkout. Your code will be emailed to you within 48 hours.

Thanks, STLMommy!
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$25 Gift Certificates as low as $3.25 from Restaurant.com!

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We haven't had a sale from Restaurant.com since May 18th! They are rare these days so take advantage when they are discounted. $25 Gift Certificates are at a super low price right now! Restaurant.com is offering 50% off of $25 Gift Certificates when you use code TRAVEL. This means you pay $5 on most certificates! 

The $5 price will not reflected until you get to checkout and enter the promo code TRAVEL. Then it will take 50% off the $10 price. Certificates DO sell out for various places so Don't WAIT!

Even better - when you go through ShopatHome.com you can get 35% cash back on your purchase making the certificates just $3.25! Awesome!

Sale ends 7/12/12.

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