Five people in Hanford, California were arrested in what was described as a sophisticated scheme to use fraudulent coupons at Walmart. Not just fake coupons but high value coupons. It is reported that the five either worked at Walmart or were family members. One was the cashier and would push through the fake coupons making the item free and even paying them any overage. It is said that the cost of products and cash are in the tens of thousands of dollars. You can read the entire story HERE. This story is coming a day after news outlets reported a high theft of Tide laundry detergent to use for drugs or reselling on the black market.
The first thing that came to mind was of course how terrible this is and what a shame that people would stoop to this behavior. Then I paused and wondered if this is another example of why retailers may crack down on coupon use even more. Couponers around the country have gotten their hands slapped for the mere fact of using coupons. Although done completely ethically, stores and cashiers are putting honest couponers through the ringer every time they hit the register and pull out even a handful of coupons. It’s because of the fraud…it started with Extreme Couponing and it’s a crying shame. Right when we think things are calming down on the coupon front, another story of thievery pops up to remind us that there are people out there that don’t and won’t play by the rules.
If you’re using coupons to get an item for cheaper than what you would have paid without one, great! Sometimes you can legally and ethically get an item for free when using a coupon on an item that has been marked down..that’s great too. If your using coupons to buy things that the coupon didn’t intend it for or using fake coupons, I just want to say, “Thanks for ruining it for families all over the country who count on coupons to feed their families. Your greed and selfishness will cause more limits (as if they’re not enough already).
I’m personally glad that these people were caught. I hope that they are persecuted to the full extent of the law. I hope that Walmart gets all of their losses back. This was an “inside”" job because one or more of the accused were employees. They had access and a plan. Although this is a different situation than a customer committing coupon fraud, stealing is still stealing. I also hope that Walmart and other stores understand that not everyone that redeems a coupon is on the prowl to rob them blind.
In case you are wondering how to tell if a coupon is fake or not, here are a few tips to know the difference.
- You got it in an email.
- Most coupons do not come in PDF form.
- If the coupon has several 0′s under the bar code, it has no way to track it.
- If it is missing a bar code or expiration date all together.
- If it’s too good to be true. Pepsi will NEVER create a coupon for a free 24 pack of their product. Use common sense on this one.
- A photo copied coupon. There are print limits for a reason. Anything photo copied goes against the terms on the coupon .
You can also see the list of the latest fake coupons in circulation by visiting the Coupon Information Corporation’s website HERE.
Being caught using fraudulent coupons can land you up with HUGE fines. Don’t do it…even if your not completely sure, it isn’t worth the risk.
I cannot express enough how much I detest this practice. When a retailer gets stuck with coupons they cannot be reimbursed for, they loose money. They have to make money to stay in business and keep people working. The use of fraudulent coupons or using them against the terms, hurts all of us. Sure, there will always be those that always try to beat the system. It’s inevitable. Between new code readers, limits, lower value coupons and coupon policies changing all the time, it won’t be as easy and that’s a good thing.
Using coupons is a privilege. Period.