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I don’t like it when a few bad eggs try to spoil couponing for the rest of us.
There are people who are a little shady as they sell off their stockpiles, and then there are people who straight up fabricate coupons and grow a criminal empire with them.
It was straight up cinematic, though, enough to warrant a television episode on CBS.
Here’s what you need to know:
An Arizona trio executed the largest and most costly fake coupon scam in history.
Robin Ramirez, Amiko Fountain and Marilyn Johnson operated a website and an eBay store, where they sold millions of dollars in counterfeit coupons.
There were more than 15,400 orders made through their site — and most of them were bulk orders by people who were stoked to get an epic deal.
They were caught and arrested in 2012.
Police confiscated about $40 million worth of counterfeit coupons, which the trio had printed overseas.
Authorities also confiscated $2 million worth of things they bought with their fraudulent funds — things like $240,000 in vehicles, 22 guns and a 40-foot speedboat.
The coupons basically robbed 40 of the country’s largest manufacturers.
Procter & Gamble, who makes a whole bunch of brands — including Downy, Charmin, Crest and a whole plethora of other products you use — helped catch the counterfeiters with their own private investigators, and in the end were able to get $1.3 million in restitution.
There was no get-out-of-jail-free coupon for Ramirez.
Ramirez was sentenced to two years in jail, and her buddies served three years probation.
Don’t fall victim to fake coupons yourself.
Some good rules of thumb? Never pay for coupons (and why would you with KCL’s amazing app?), don’t participate in closed or secret coupon groups, and straight up avoid coupons that seem too good to be true.
That’s not from me, either. It’s from the Coupon Information Center, which tracks fake coupons.
Also, look out for coupons being visibly altered, typos or incorrect information, and savings that go beyond what the store charges for a particular item.
Watch the drama unfold on the CBS show Pink Collar Crimes.
The new CBS docu-drama Pink Collar Crimes dedicated its sixth episode to the whole thing, appropriately titled, “The Queen of Coupons.” It aired on Sept. 1. Watch it here.