It’s your first day in a new place. Everyone is dressed to reflect their surroundings. You walk into the cafeteria carrying your lunch. Since you don’t know anyone you have to make that all important decision about where to sit. You find some people who look friendly and take a seat, hoping to eat without drawing too much attention to yourself.
As you sit down your tablemates introduce themselves and explain how they got there. When it’s your turn you mumble under your breath, “I’m in jail for coupon fraud.”
Yes this is VERY dramatic. But if you are stealing, photocopying or creating coupons this could be your reality.
Prison sentences of three to five years are becoming more and more common. Financial penalties are all over the place but many of them have been over $200,000.
So I want to take a second to remind you that you hurt all of us when you commit coupon fraud. What is coupon fraud?
Here are the most common examples:
1. Photocopying coupons. Every time you print a coupon on your computer it has a unique identifying number on it. When the store sends it in to be reimbursed they will be denied and lose the money. That loss gets transferred back to the store- the manager and cashier get in trouble. So then the next time you go through line with a printed coupon that cashier is going to be VERY nervous about taking a coupon. Is it fair to get that cashier written up at their job because you broke the law?
Coupons have a cash value. Do you photocopy money?
2. Stealing coupon inserts. When you take something from the store that you do not pay for, that is stealing. It does not matter if it is just PART of a newspaper it’s stealing. In various parts of the country people are being charged with misdemeanor theft for stealing coupons. There is no difference between stealing a candy bar and stealing the coupon inserts out of a paper. STEALING IS STEALING.
Additionally please do not steal your neighbors papers off of their driveway. That is just tacky.
3. Creating your own coupons. Most people are technologically advanced enough to create their own coupons but those who do usually go all out. In response their prison time and financial penalties reflect that. Fines in the millions of dollars have been issued.
If you get a coupon that seems too good to be true there is a place you can go to check it out! The CIC has a nice long list of fraudulent coupons!
So please be a stand up couponer and do things honestly. Don’t ruin it for the rest of us!