Counterfeiting Continues to Roil Brands and Grocers           

By John Karolefski

Investigators with the police department in Asheboro, N.C. recently served a search warrant at the home of Dylan Adams where thousands of suspected counterfeit coupons, USPS mailing materials, various lists, computers, and a printer were seized. Charges are expected to be filed in the near future.

This is the latest example of possible coupon fraud that continues to roil marketers of food and beverage brands and their trading partners.

“We greatly appreciate the efforts of the Asheboro Police Department and Lowes Foods on this case, and we look forward to justice being done,” said Coupon Information Corporation executive director Bud Miller, who added that anyone named as a subject of an investigation or prosecution must be presumed innocent of any wrongdoing unless proven otherwise in a court of law.

CIC is a not-for-profit association of consumer product manufacturers dedicated to fighting coupon misredemption and fraud.

“Counterfeits are coming hot and heavy,” Miller told CPGmatters. “There are continued economic challenges in the country that spur people to doing this. People are always looking for ways to save a dishonest dollar.”

Coupon fraud occurs in several ways:

  • When a person intentionally uses a coupon for a product that he or she has not purchased or otherwise fails to satisfy the terms and conditions for redemption
  • When a retailer submits coupons for products they have not sold or that were not properly redeemed by a consumer in connection with a retail purchase.
  • When coupons are altered/counterfeited.

These activities typically violate Federal, State or local laws. Coupon fraud costs CPG manufacturers hundreds of millions of dollars every year. It also increases costs for consumers and makes it more difficult for honest consumers to use coupons legitimately.

Consumers should never pay money for coupons, Miller advised. Coupon purchasers should clearly understand that they are likely purchasing counterfeits or stolen materials. Also, coupon purchasers should be aware that they are providing their personal information to an individual or organization likely engaged in a criminal enterprise.
Miller also warned consumers to be particularly wary of “coupon sales” on Facebook and Instagram. CIC frequently identifies counterfeits on those sites.

CIC was founded to encourage integrity in connection with the redemption of manufacturers' coupons and participation in other promotional programs. The association provides education and advisories to consumers, best practices to retailers, advocacy for members (primarily manufacturers), and resources and support to law enforcement. It leads efforts to reform and improve security practices, enhance transparency, and open communications among all industry participants. CIC’s Annual Summit brings together industry executives representing diverse specialties to discuss issues and trends affecting coupon security.

Since its inception, the association has:

  • Exposed fraud schemes involving more than $750 million
  • Identified thousands of individuals and entities misusing coupons
  • Addressed new and emerging coupon challenges prior to becoming endemic
  • Recovered and returned millions of dollars to victims
  • Supported the prosecution of every significant coupon fraud case since 1986 – and never lost a case.

“We encourage and support federal, state, and local law enforcement efforts to identify, investigate, and prosecute coupon misredemption,” Miller said.

                                               Mid-April 2018