Friday, April 8, 2011

Coupon Fraud - What it is and what are the consequences

Oh what a mess!  As if Extreme Couponing wasn't controversial enough among those
in the couponing world, now it is coming out that one of the participants not only has a history of 
committing coupon fraud, she also taught it in her couponing workshops and actually committed it on the 

While it may seem a bit nutty to some people, there are many of us who take couponing very seriously -
not life or death seriously - but serious enough.  When I started couponing I admit that 
I didn't totally understand how it all worked and I made some mistakes along the way.
It takes a little time to figure out all the rules and ethics involved, but in order for stores to remain coupon friendly this is just something you have to take the time to learn about. 

So, what exactly is Coupon Fraud?
It is quite simply using a coupon for a purpose other than it was intended.
This could include using the coupon to purchase an item other than the item named on the coupon, purchasing a different size or quantity than indicated on the coupon.
It also includes creating, modifying or changing a coupon in any way to alter it from it's original form.
For example, making a photocopy, altering the expiration date or bar codes or changing the value.

What are the consequences for Coupon Fraud?
Surprisingly harsh
The harshest penalty ever handed down was 17 years in prison and
a $5 million fine.
Less harsh but very common- yet still not worth it -
3-5 years in prison and fines in the $200,000+ range.

You can head over HERE to the CIC to see a up to date of list of the fraudulent coupons floating around out
there right now.  Now I am not at all suggesting that the woman featured on Extreme Couponing
was creating fake coupons - it appears that she was using valid coupons for items that were not included on the coupons.  
I find it very hard to believe that there will not be some legal ramifications for this woman -
it's actually a bit sad that she has resorted to fraud in order to satisfy her need to get the deal.

I will get some posts up over the next few days showing you what to look for in legitimate and fraudulent coupons.  If you have any other questions about coupon use please leave a comment or send me an email and
I will address those as well.

See more details about what happened on the show HERE

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