Posted on Thursday, February 4th, 2016 at 10:06 am
Coupons give people a quick and simply way to save some money. It has become popular to use coupons for grocery shopping as well as for other products. Unfortunately, the popularity of coupons has inspired some people to break laws.
A man who is a Louisiana resident has been sentenced to 41 months for running a counterfeit coupon operation online. He was doing this through an anonymous online network. He worked with co-conspirators to make fake coupons that used the trademarked logos of several well known and easily recognized coupon distributors.
This case is a very good example of the seriousness of coupon fraud. Creating fake coupons can result in a lengthy jail sentence. What some people do not realize is that buying and attempting to use counterfeit coupons can also get a person into serious legal trouble. Using fake coupons is a form of coupon fraud – even if you were unaware that the coupon was a fake.
It is never legal to sell coupons. The Coupon Information Center (CIC) points out that consumers can protect themselves from counterfeiters by never paying money for coupons and by using only coupons that they have obtained from authorized channels, such as their local newspaper.
The Coupon Information Center very clearly states that there is no legitimate way to sell your unwanted coupons. It also points out the following information:
The sale or transfer of coupons is a violation of virtually all manufacturers’ coupon redemption policies. These policies are generally printed on the coupons or are available from the manufacturer upon request. Any sale or transfer voids the coupon.
People purchasing coupons have often been associated with organized criminal activities. They often purchase the coupons as one aspect of a scheme to defraud the coupon issuers/manufacturers, usually by seeking to redeem coupons without purchasing any products. Individuals selling coupons to such crime rings have been charged with and convicted of criminal violations.
There will be some people out there who assume that they will get away with creating counterfeit coupons or selling coupons. The Coupon Information Center notes that “not one defendant has been acquitted in a CIC related coupon fraud case since operations began in 1986.”
One way to avoid a counterfeit coupon is to check the list of counterfeit coupons on the CIC website. They also advise that you should not download coupons from internet forums, and that you should never pay money for a coupon. They also point out that giving your personal information, or credit card information, to a stranger could result in identity theft.