It takes a lot of work to be a coupon counterfeiter. First, you have to make or acquire the fakes and ensure they look legit. Then you have to carefully plan your shopping trip – how many fraudulent coupons should you try to use in one transaction? Should you go to self-checkout or seek out a cashier who looks like an easy mark? Should you ensure you have to pay a little something at the end of the transaction, so as not to raise suspicions by getting everything for free? And finally, you have to consider how to cover your tracks to ensure the counterfeits can’t be traced back to you.
A Tennessee woman allegedly did okay up until that last part. Now, she’s facing potential criminal charges, in connection with the use of counterfeit coupons at her local Walmart.
And she just might have gotten away with it, if all of her allegedly meticulous planning didn’t end with one particularly careless mistake.
Police in Cookeville were called to one of the town’s two Walmart stores last Wednesday, to investigate a case of suspected theft and fraud. A Walmart employee explained that, several days earlier, just before midnight, a woman came into the store and bought $253.68 worth of merchandise, with $218.40 worth of counterfeit coupons.
The fake coupons were known to Walmart, since similar ones had been used at other locations. According to the Cookeville Police Department investigative report, the Walmart employee told the responding officer that “she had been advised by vendors that individuals were printing the fraudulent coupons” from the internet.
So how was Walmart able to track down this alleged coupon offender, and identify her to police by name? Did they study surveillance tapes, carefully compare notes with other local Walmart locations, maybe set up a sting operation to catch her in the act?
Not quite. It turns out that, after handing over her stack of fraudulent coupons, the woman paid her $35.28 balance – with her Walmart credit card.
It seems coupon counterfeiters may be enterprising and audacious, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re geniuses.
Walmart plans to press charges against the woman. And when it’s all over, she may end up owing a lot more on that Walmart credit card than she bargained for.
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