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  • Coupon Scammers

    Just curious if you guys have heard about this or had retail companies call you asking for advice or even just call to report their regulars that do this sort of thing....

    Basically, people come in load up on expensive goods, get to the cash register and have everything scanned in. When it's time to pay, they pull out a wad of coupons. For participating items, a manufacturer's and a Target coupon can both be used. They use all these coupons, save a crap ton of money, then return everything a few days later for cash. Been goin on for quite awhile now. The problem is our systems will accept the coupons alot of the time when they shouldn't have done so in the first place. Everyone loses in the end because either the manufacturers lose money and raise prices of the products that the corporation Im employed by pays for, and in turn, we raise the prices of the products; or the manufacturer refuses to reimburse Target because the contingencies of the coupons' fine print were not met. Then, our store raises prices within. Thankfully, the manufacturers have really done a great job printing the coupons more effectively and stating in their fine print so that our "guests" can understand better. Target has also done a great job modifying their register programs for accepting these coupons.

    Getting to the story....I was working a cashier shift last night at Target when a woman came through my line. Her buggie was loaded to the rim with those expensive heallth and beauty products(ie: electric toothbrushes, white strips, tooth paste, razors, that expensive skin lotion, expensive candles, vitamins, hair cair products, etc). I knew her plan as soon as I saw her approaching and grinned contently. I scanned in all her items and waited for her to hand me a stack of 100+ coupons. The order totaled $1233.xx! I was even impressed someone would try this. She was nervous already. I usually sort through each coupon myself, but thankfull our Assests Protection store manager was closing last night so I called her over to assisst me in sorting through all those lovely coupons. Surprisingly, only a few of them were expired. We began reading the specifics so that this "guest" would understand why she could not save $10 on a product which was, 1. not specified in the coupone and 2. cheaper than $10. She began getting upset(this is why I love having the store manager right next to me). Most of her other coupons either had a limit of one per purchase, or limit of 4 per shopping trip. She had excess of 10 coupons on most of those. She began getting really mad and demanded we just "take all that off" referring to the products which she could not receive discounts for. After we were about 75% through reading her collection of coupons and she realized her order was still $963.xx(which I don't think she intended to pay), she started walking away and yelled, "There are people behind me so I'll just come back another time." I guess she decided she didn't need a years supply of health and beauty products after all. Anyways, my assests protection manager was very pleased and is reccomending me for an investigative position within the assets protection part of Target that just came open. The person who spent over 30 minutes putting the products back on the shelf was not as happy.

    Anyways, I know that was kinda long, but I wanted to share the story. That was just one experience of many we have had(probably the most balsy, however). Any of you officers ever dealth with this before or had complaints from retail stores about it?

    Thanks for all you do,
    Jake

  • #2
    It happens all the time.

    Most of the time the people don't get that much stuff at one setting------------but will pass off one or two at a time. Many times the cashiers either don't care, or when scanned into the computer, the scam is caught at that point...................and since it is only one or two items, no one gives it a second look.

    She was probably going to resell them on Ebay

    A person would have to be a real idiot to bring that kind of attention to themselves if they were trying to get over on the store like that.
    Since some people need to be told by notes in crayon .......Don't PM me with without prior permission. If you can't discuss the situation in the open forum ----it must not be that important

    My new word for the day is FOCUS, when someone irritates you tell them to FOCUS

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    • #3
      +1. Happens all the time. Scary thing is that its nearly impossible to prosecute.
      Originally posted by kontemplerande
      Without Germany, you would not have won World War 2.

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      • #4
        We have had a few people causing problems by using the Internet to figure out how the coupon bar codes work. They make their own coupons for a free xbox or playstation. The coupon look real in every way and will be accepted by the register as real. The problem comes when the store, like you said, tries to get reimbursed.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Jake81 View Post
          Just curious if you guys have heard about this or had retail companies call you asking for advice or even just call to report their regulars that do this sort of thing....
          Nah... they usually handle this internally when they have employees (team members) who are attentive enough to catch on to it. As far as criminal prosecution... it's pretty difficult to prove they did it with any intent to defraud (who reads that pesky fine print anyway?) Target does a better job than most.

          They have Group Assets Protection Investigators, many of whom come from prior law enforcement, who handle large-scale investigations. Assuming this was happening regularly at a number of stores with the same suspects where they were moving large amounts of merchandise - that's about the only time they might involve local law enforcement.

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          • #6
            When I worked Asset Protection at a Grocery store we had people try this all the time. I even had employees/cashiers that would steal the coupons and re-use them for their benefit. In LE however, like most above me already noted it is a beaotch to prosecute since mental culpability is hard to establish in these cases.

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