Last updated: August 24. 2013 9:51PM - 335 Views

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This week there is a Smartsource and Redplum insert.

This week’s lesson is about coupon fraud. When I first heard of coupon fraud it didn’t seem like a huge deal to me. Once I learned how to coupon and saw the loss stores can experience, I realized how important it was. If a coupon is fake or used on the wrong product, the store will not get paid for that item. That cuts their profit down and could raise prices for you. Coupon fraud is so serious that the penalties are strict. They include a prison sentence of up to 17 years, a $5 million fine, and three to five years spent in prison for coupon fraud is not uncommon. This is a huge reason I mentioned a few weeks ago to never print coupons from a third party. If your co-worker sends you an email with a printable coupon, avoid it! If they send you a link from the manufacturer that prompts you to print a coupon then you’re probably safe.

Coupon fraud includes the reproduction of coupons or making copies of printable coupons, using coupons that were created by someone, selling coupons, and using coupons on products that they are not intended for. Some coupon fraud also includes selling products you purchase with coupons. P&G coupons state in the terms and conditions of their coupon that you cannot use coupons on items you are purchasing to resale. When we use coupons we agree to their terms and conditions. Another thing many people do not realize is that it is illegal to sell items from couponing in bulk if you do not have a Vendor’s License as required by law. Selling to family, friends, and co-workers is different, but selling to the public works a little different.

Back in February of this year a man known as “The Coupon Guy” was sentenced because he made counterfeit coupons and sold them online. He was charged by the FBI with wire fraud and trafficking in counterfeit goods. He also created a software program called “How to Make a Coupon.” He caused financial harm to many small and independently owned grocery stores. This also prompted many stores to stop refusing printable coupons all together. For his actions he received three years of supervised probation, no access to computers or small devices without supervision, he has been ordered to pay $900,000 in restitution where 15 percent of his wages will be garnished towards this, two fines of $100 each, plus administrative costs. Coupons are supposed to help us save money not financially ruin us for the rest of our lives and that’s exactly what this guy did by trying to turn a coupon into a book.

Last year 18 Walmart employees in Hanford, Calif., cost their store $25,000 because of the coupon scam they were involved when. Eighteen employees walked away with free merchandise and cash! It turns out that they used thousands of fake coupons to score their deals. Walmart officials claim they didn’t know the coupons were fake until they received them back from the manufacturer. Many products that were bought with fraudulent coupons were sold at a local flea market. One family alone is facing 64 counts of burglary and conspiracy for fake coupons that they printed and used in the store. Hanford police say that they expect many more arrests to take place as their investigation continues.

Great deals to look for this week:

Get free deodorant and mouthwash this week at Walgreens by using the sale, coupons, and earning points for your purchase. Get free toothpaste at CVS. You can also score a $5 extrabuck reward when you purchase $20 Bounty, Charmin, or Puffs products.

Coupon Tip of the Week:

I’ve noticed over the past few months that during P&G sales at Meijer there has also been a promotion where you can earn a $10 prepaid MasterCard by mail when you purchase $30 in P&G products. The $30 is before coupons! So, even you spend just $10, you’re still getting that $10 rebate back. The rebate form will print as a Catalina coupon. You will be required to send in your receipt with the purchased items circled along with the Catalina coupon itself. These are a limit of one per household. However, it’s one per household per promotion. For example; if you did this promotion at Meijer last month, you can still do it again next month. I’m not sure at this time if this promotion will run again. So far it has ran at the beginning of every month for the past three months and has included all P&G items ranging in toothpaste, diapers, detergent, toilet paper, cleaning products, and more!

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