Number 9 of the Scams of Christmas: Bogus Coupons

’Tis the season for saving money. That’s what coupons are for—assuming those coupons are legitimate. But, alas, “phishing” scammers are also using this tried-and-true consumer favorite as a lure to bring prospective victims to their websites.

There are also those coupons that seek to turn you into the culprit, and some estimate these fake coupon schemes, aided by the internet and high resolution printers, cost up to $600 million dollars annually. Let's say you wanted to pick us some snacks for your holiday party, and saw the perfect coupon in your inbox. Via a Scambusters report:

Many grocery stores accepted the bogus Doritos [$5] coupons and manufacturer Frito-Lay initially honored the redemptions, but now they say they’ll no longer do that….

In fact, this coupon scam has become so widespread that Frito Lay’s parent company, PepsiCo, and a trade group, the Coupon Information Corporation (CIC) announced a $2,500 reward for the successful prosecution of whoever started this scam.

Who does it benefit?

Organized groups of dishonest consumers and regular crooks have also used them [bogus coupons] either to build up stocks of the product for resale or, when they could, to get stores to redeem them for cash.

Of course, sometimes the coupon's deal is genuine, but almost impossible to believe. For instance, how about the now-expired Groupon offer to tour the Titanic? A cool $12,500 got takers a 79% discount on their 13-day ocean voyage from St. John's, Newfoundland, trips to photograph the wreckage from deep sea craft, as well as a Titanic DVD signed by a real Leonardo DiCaprio impersonator. Really.

Do you like hot holiday deals full of couterfeit cheer? That’s No. 8 on this 12 Scams of Christmas list and coming up next.

Leading image via WBAL.


Terry Ambrose writes the McKenna mystery series set in Hawaii. They're filled with snark, scams, and trouble in paradise.

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