Consumer Watch: Beware of fake coupon scams

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by Andy Treinen

WHAS11.com

Posted on July 16, 2012 at 4:45 PM

Updated Monday, Jul 16 at 5:02 PM

(WHAS11) -- News of a multi-million dollar counterfeit coupon scam, including fake coupons sold on the internet, has led to arrests this past week in Arizona. Good Morning Kentuckiana's Andy Treinen has more on fake coupon scams in Monday's Consumer Watch.

Smart consumers love discount coupons, because the savings can really add up at the checkout counter.

But buyer beware, the great discount coupon you found on the internet is probably as phony as a $3 bill.

Police raided a home in Arizona and found a mountain of counterfeit coupons worth an estimated $25 to $30 million dollars.

“This is the largest counterfeit coupon arrest that has occurred in the industry and I personally have been working in this area for 27 years,"said investigator Bud Miller.

Police arrested three members of an alleged counterfeit coupon ring headed by a woman named Robin Ramirez.

"Miss Ramirez over the past 12 months profited approximately $12.2 million and that's just in the last twelve months alone," said Police Officer Robert Holmes.

The fake coupons were allegedly sold on a website called savvy-shopper-site.com.

The scam offers shoppers a discount coupon worth $100 at a retail store for just $10. 

In the past few years, this fraud has exploded across the country, costing businesses hundreds of millions of dollars. And last year, Coca-Cola pulled a discount on 12-packs of coke because of "widespread counterfeiting."

"The manufactures lose in this situation because they ultimately end up paying for these counterfeit coupons," explained Miller.

How to tell if you have a fake coupon? Here are some tell-tale signs:

  • Fake coupons usually do not have bar codes on them, and they don't have expiration dates.
  • Check to see if there is a contact number for the manufacturer or store.
  • Real coupons usually have a hologram that you can see or feel. The fakes do not.

And if you're thinking about using the fake coupons anyway, just remember that the person who uses them could be held criminally liable.

If you have a consumer issue you’d like us to look into send an e-mail to consumerwatch@whas11.com.

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