Couple Sentenced to Prison for Coupon Fraud
Posted on Wednesday, November 3rd, 2021 at 7:00 am
The Coupon Information Center (CIC) reported in a press release that a woman from Virginia, who was the leader of the “MasterChef” counterfeit coupon conspiracy, was sentenced to 12 years incarceration, three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay more than $31 million in restitution.
The CIC stated that this sentence will be served concurrently with her sentences for other federal offenses, including Medicaid and SNAP fraud. The restitution will be paid jointly with her husband, who was recently sentenced to more than seven years’ incarceration and three years of supervised release.
What did this couple do? According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) website, they were engaging in coupon fraud. It turns it that there were more people involved than the couple.
According to the FBI, the woman (who was part of the couple) had “trained herself in the different techniques she needed to manipulate barcodes to make these coupons work”. Apparently, the woman had a background in marketing and computer design skills was able to create a (fraudulent) coupon for almost any grocery or drug store and to make it whatever value she wanted. Often the discount was near or even over the retail value of the item.
The CIC has some helpful information that you can use to prevent obtaining fraudulent coupons. Here is what they recommend:
Use the coupons from your newspaper, manufacturer’s web site or their authorized coupon distributor.
Never pay money for a coupon.
Do not download coupons from Internet forums.
If a friend e-mails you coupons, especially high value or free product coupons, the coupons are most likely counterfeit.
Most manufacturers follow common sense practices about Internet Print-At-Home Coupons, for example, the coupon itself should not be visible on your computer screen.
Check the counterfeit coupons list on the CIC website to make sure you have not obtained a fraudulent coupon.