SavvyShopperSite.com: Coupon counterfeiters arrested; sold free-product coupons online and on Ebay
“This case clearly demonstrates the dangers of purchasing coupons on the Internet, whether it is from independent websites, e-mail or from online auctions. Coupon buyers expose themselves to the possibility of becoming involved with counterfeits, stolen property or other criminal activities. They may also expose themselves to additional risk by providing their names, home addresses and financial information to organized crime rings.” - Bud Miller, Coupon Information Center.
- SavvyShopperSite.com: Three people arrested this morning in Phoenix
- Sold free-product counterfeit coupons on SavvyShopperSite.com and Ebay
- Four homes and 21 vehicles seized during the raid
Over the past few months, word's been getting around about SavvyShopperSite.com. The site sells free-product coupons in any quantity you wish to buy, with a few caveats -- you must spend at least $50 on coupons at a time, you must pay for your order with a Green Dot Moneypak (prepaid debit card,) and to place an order, you need a referral from a current customer. Their site also advises, "please do not share this information with people that you don't actually know. This includes forums and any public viewing areas or websites."
Why would a legitimate business have so many restrictions on how to buy from them? While some websites rave about the savings they're getting with Savvy Shopper Site coupons, other blogs began outing the site as selling counterfeits.
Some shoppers burned by the site went to the media. Here's a New Orleans WBRZ news report about a woman who filled her fridge and pantry with items purchased with Savvy Shopper Site's free-product coupons, later to be told they were counterfeit:
The Daily Journal of Missouri also featured a reader's story of purchasing counterfeit coupons from SavvyShopperSite:
An Arkansas customer found the website, www.savvyshoppersite.com, and took advantage of the offers. For example, she paid for nearly a dozen coupons for Hershey bars and used a few among others when she shopped.
Then, the store received bad news: The coupons “bounced” because they were all fake... That means that the customer, who had thought she was getting valid coupons, is stuck with coupons that are no good after paying for them.
Some of the coupons currently offered on the site are tempting to buy. For $16, you can buy a coupon to get up to 40 pounds of Eukanuba dog food for free, up to a maximum of $55. For $12, you can buy a Huggies Big Pack up to $24, for free. Four dollars will net you a coupon for free beef jerky or chicken product.
SavvyShopperSite.com and Ebay
Most seasoned couponers know to avoid purchasing coupons on Ebay -- coupon fraud on Ebay is sadly rampant. Yet there are many sellers offering too-good-to-be-true, high-value product coupons on the site each day. Where are they getting them?
Apparently, many of them have been getting the coupons from SavvyShopperSite. Savvy Shopper actively courts resellers on their site, providing a path for these counterfeits to end up in front of many more potential shoppers. With the issue of counterfeit coupons being raised in the media as of late (hundreds of counterfeit coupons have been featured on TLC's "Extreme Couponing") coupon shoppers, including myself, have been looking into where these coupons are coming from.
One of my readers wrote to an Ebay seller to let him know that the Bar-S meat coupons he was selling were counterfeit. He replied, "thanks for telling me know. all my coupons was purchase as a bulk with other seller and i resell them for $ , thanks."
Other sellers are even more open about where their coupons are coming from. This seller sent shoppers to SavvyShopperSite for more coupons right in the feedback of his or her own auctions.
This morning, the Phoenix Police Department arrested three women in conjunction with an organized criminal enterprise that sold counterfeit coupons. I spoke briefly with Bud Miller, Executive Director of the Coupon Information Center this afternoon. Bud stated, "Initial contact was made by a SWAT team removing the front door of a residence by force. The CIC and some of its members were on location in a mobile command unit watching the bust. Numerous weapons were found on the premises, and there were millions of dollars, if not tens of millions of dollars, worth of counterfeits inside. Numerous computer records have been taken and identified, including the list of customers who have purchased counterfeit coupons from them. These customers should expect contact in the future."
The CIC's press release has additional information as well. I want to thank the readers who have sent information about SavvyShopperSite.com to me over the past few months. This story is still breaking, and I will continue to cover it as more information is released.