Everyone loves coupons and like many things in our lives, coupons which used to be found commonly in newspapers and magazines have migrated online.  In 2020 the Better Business Bureau issued a warning about phony coupons appearing on social media.  Among the companies affected by these phony coupons were Bath and Body Works, Costco, Aldi, Starbucks and Trader Joe’s. As I have warned you many times in the past, Facebook has become a hotbed for phony online coupons. The phony coupons looks quite legitimate which means nothing because it is very easy to copy the company logos and make the coupons appear to be genuine. The way that many phony coupon scams work is that in order to qualify for the coupon, you must complete a survey in which you are required to provide much personal information that is used to make you a victim of identity theft. In other versions of the scam, the scammer actually asks for your credit card numbers. In yet another version of the scam you are required to buy many costly items in order to claim your “free” coupon. Many of the coupon scams also require you to forward the coupon to friends which make the phony coupons look more legitimate when they are received by your friends. Ultimately, in all of these scams, the coupons are worthless and you get nothing, but the opportunity to become a victim of identity theft.

However, coupon scams can also involve counterfeit coupons which are sold by counterfeiters on social media, which is what Lori Ann Talens did for three years ending in May of 2020.  Using Facebook and other social media she would sell her phony coupons to online groups of coupon fans.  In particular she sold millions of dollars of phony, counterfeit coupons that appeared to be for Kimberly -Clark paper products, Proctor & Gamble household goods as well as other home supply companies.  Last week Talens was sentenced to twelve years in prison for her crimes.  Coincidentally, a new movie starring Kristen Bell will be released in theaters and through streaming services about coupon counterfeiters.  It is a comedy entitled “Queenpins.”

TIPS

If the coupon appears too good to be true, it usually is a scam. No company could cover the cost of giving away vast numbers of the coupons sold by Talens offering tremendous savings.  Facebook is a favorite venue for scammers perpetrating this type of scam because often unwary victims will unwittingly share the scam with their friends.  The best place to go to find out if a coupon is legitimate is to go to the company’s website to see what real coupons are being offered by the company.

For those of you receiving the Scam of the day through an email, I just want to remind you that if you want to see the ever increasing list of Coronavirus scams go to the first page of the http://www.scamicide.com website and click on the tab at the top of the page that indicates “Coronavirus Scams.”  Scamicide was  cited by the New York Times as one of three top sources for information about Coronavirus related scams.

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