Photo Credit: KPHO
Three Arizona women were recently arrested when $25 million in fake coupons were discovered. After looking at the photos of the coupons, it appears these were very quality fake coupons. They were selling these coupons for about half of the value of the fraudulent coupons. This is a massive bust and is also a great opportunity for me to share some tips on how to spot fake coupons.
From the KPHO story,
The bogus website was selling the phony coupons online for hundreds of dollars, police said. In return, customers would receive coupons valued at two to three times what they spent, Lake said.
“These were free-item coupons,” Lake said. “Some of them, like for Iams, you get this coupon from her for $10 and you can get a $70 item. Walk out of the store with a $70 bag of dog food. If you can get an unlimited number of those, think how this grows.”
Coupon fraud hurts all of us. $25 million in fake coupons redeemed means the stores that accepted these coupons will not be reimbursed for those coupon redemption. It may not seem like a big deal when you are just redeeming one or two but on a larger scale this means loss of jobs, lower coupon values, and more difficult coupon redemption policies from stores. Just a few bad seeds can ruin it for those of us who are redeeming their coupons properly.
There is no reason to use fake coupons or use coupons in a manner not intended because there are so many great deals to be had by staying legit!
Know Your Source
This is the biggest tip I can give. KNOW the source of the coupon. I often obtain many free product coupons through the manufacturers or via blog conferences from the public relations team. I know these coupons are legitimate because I have received them directly from the source.
If you are buying these coupons from Ebay or online at other sources, you cannot verify the authenticity of the coupon. If you get an email in your inbox from a friend with a printable page of free product coupons it is probably not legitimate. It is estimated that 99% of the free product coupons sold on Ebay are fake coupons.
TLC’s Extreme Couponing has featured users with fraudulent coupons, without any repercussions or prosecution. If you are caught using fraudulent coupons, you could be prosecuted! It’s best not to risk it. In fact, CIC, the Coupon Information Council, has issued a warning for all stores thinking about participating in the show.
Since you can’t verify it is a legitimate coupon, it is best to stick with credible sources of obtaining coupons such as Sunday newspapers, printable coupons, in store brochures, manufacturer’s websites, and other verifiable sources. You can search the Coupon Database to find more legitimate sources of coupons.
Extended Expiration Dates
Almost all legitimate coupons have a expiration date especially coupons for FREE products. If it doesn’t have a expiration date and you don’t know where the coupon came from then it could possibly be a fake coupon.
Too Good to Be True
If the coupon has a unknown source and it is a high value coupon, then should be cautious about using the coupon. Check the CIC known fraudulent coupon list and google the coupon to see if anyone else has run across this particular coupon. Someone emailed me awhile back about a Seattle’s Best Coffee free product coupon being sold on Ebay. The coupon was for a very large size that I have never even seen in stores for up to $16.99. I know coffee is expensive but this was a completely unrealistic coupon. I have seen plenty of legitimate free product coupons and it is rare to have a coupon for this high of a value.
What You Can Do
Attend a Savings Nation Coupon Workshop to learn how to use coupons in the manner intended while still maximizing your saving.These are just of the few of the things I emphasize in my Savings Nation Couponing Workshops. Coupons can be a wonderful thing when used properly and save my family 50% or more on our grocery bill. If you would like to learn more on how to use coupons to save 50% or more on YOUR grocery bill, please attend one of my upcoming couponing workshops.