Cops Nail Extreme Counterfeit Couponing Ring Worth $40 Million
Smuggling drugs can be pretty lucrative, but it's also really dangerous. So a trio of women allegedly turned to contraband of the less obvious variety: counterfeit coupons.
Lots and lots and lots of counterfeit coupons.
After an eight-week undercover investigation, police raided three homes in the Phoenix area last week, arrested three middle-aged women and seized $40 million in bogus coupons.
And the ladies were certainly living the high life -- among the $2 million worth of assets found at the women’s homes were $240,000 in vehicles, dozens of guns and a 40-foot speed boat.
“The opulence and the money was the equivalent of drug cartel-type of stuff. That’s the type of money they had,” said Sgt. David Lake of the Phoenix Police Department.
The investigation was launched after companies like Procter & Gamble and Hershey were victimized and hired their own investigators to trace a recent rush of phony coupons hitting the market, which were seemingly purchased overseas and then resold on auction and coupon-enthusiast sites.
Two of the women who were arrested say they had no idea the coupons were fake, but the Coupon Information Center’s Bud Miller said, “This case clearly demonstrates the dangers of purchasing coupons on the internet, whether it is from independent websites, e-mail or from online auctions."