“Coupon fairies” or “IP fairies” aren’t quite as active as they used to be online, ever since Coupons.com implemented new safeguards that made it more difficult to get an unlimited number of internet printable (IP) coupons.

But they’re not gone yet. So Coupons.com is as active as ever, in going after them.

Quotient Technology, the parent company of Coupons.com, is pursuing a second lawsuit against a second person it accuses of bypassing print limits, in order to print and sell thousands of Coupons.com printables on Instagram.

But this person not only sold coupons – Quotient says she sold the “Springroll” hack that she created, allowing buyers to generate their own unlimited number of unique coupon prints as well.

This seller even once went by the name “ipfairy” on Instagram, which suggests she’s been at it for a while – long before any subsequent IP fairies thought to nab the simple, easy-to-remember username.

Quotient initially filed the lawsuit back in October, naming “John Doe” as the defendant, while it sought to determine Doe’s real identity. It’s the same tactic the company used a month earlier, in filing a separate lawsuit against “pdf_queen”, another Instagram seller. Quotient discovered that seller’s identity a few months ago. And it revealed this week that it has now discovered ipfairy’s identity.

So the company has amended its lawsuit and issued a summons to a Maria B. of Texas (as in the other case, while the defendant’s name and hometown are part of the public record, as a private citizen accused in a civil case, Coupons in the News has chosen not to publish her full name at this time).

Quotient says “ipfairy” also used the name “savedqs” and now goes by “flashqs” on Instagram. That account currently has more than 18,000 followers, and plenty of printable coupons from several different printable providers are still available for sale.

Much of Quotient’s lawsuit is a word-for-word replication of the arguments the company made in its first IP fairy lawsuit. Just as it did in the pdf_queen case, Quotient accuses ipfairy of violating state and federal computer fraud acts, and misappropriation, for “appropriating for herself the substantial investment of time, effort, and expense that Quotient has expended.”

But this lawsuit goes on to accuse ipfairy of unfair competition, and aiding and abetting in misappropriation, for selling her Springroll hack to others.

“Learn to print unlimited Coupons.com – only $8,” ipfairy told her followers. The images above, obtained during undercover buys from fraud investigators with Brand Technologies, show some of the printable coupons available for sale in sets of ten, neatly collated into PDF files, three to a page. There’s also a promotion for Springroll that boasts the ability to “print 27 coupons in 60 seconds”.

The Springroll software helped users create a virtual machine that tricked Coupons.com into believing that print requests were coming from different computers with different IP addresses, when they were actually all coming from a single computer that was running Springroll.

So instead of two prints per device, users could get two prints per the unlimited number of fake IP addresses Springroll could generate. That resulted in ipfairy, and her customers, being able to print (or save as PDFs) thousands of legitimate, individual coupons with unique ID codes, at a speed that could deplete a brand’s entire supply of coupons within minutes.

In addition to depriving others of the chance to print coupons before they were no longer available, ipfairy’s actions “have caused tension with Quotient’s clients and has the potential to damage Quotient’s existing and prospective business relationships,” the lawsuit reads. And selling Springroll “has enabled others to harm Quotient’s business in these ways as well.”

When contacted by Coupons in the News several months ago, pdf_queen, the defendant in the first lawsuit, insisted that coupon fairies are doing nothing wrong. “We are only using our computers and not altering their software or hacking into their systems,” she said via email. “I do not believe any wrong is being done by selling legitimate coupons that have unique PIN numbers.”

ipfairy did not respond to several requests for comment, sent to several of her known email addresses.

Quotient argues the fairies’ actions are a clear violation of the Coupons.com user agreement. By consenting to Coupons.com’s terms before printing its coupons, “users agree not to use any automated means to access the Coupons.com website,” Quotient’s lawsuit states. The agreement also “explicitly notes the existence of print attempt limits and provides that Quotient’s software is for personal, noncommercial use only.”

In addition, the lawsuit contains this unusual accusation, as Quotient argues that ipfairy is guilty of unfair competition: “Developing and selling the ‘Springroll’ hack… and charging for coupons obtained from the Quotient Promotions Network (which are otherwise available for free to any legitimate consumer)… is an unfair business practice that is immoral, unethical, and/or unscrupulous.”

At a time when coupon insert publishers are trying to crack down on paper coupon sales, and sellers insist that the mere act of selling coupons is perfectly legal, the contention that “charging for coupons… is an unfair business practice” is a noteworthy legal argument indeed.

Quotient is asking for a court injunction, forcing ipfairy to immediately stop printing and selling coupons. The lawsuit also insists she stop selling the Springroll software, though it’s not clear whether Springroll even works anymore, given the changes Coupons.com has made to thwart the fairies. The company is also seeking an unspecified amount of damages, including any and all profits ipfairy has made.

Printing an unlimited number of coupons may have been fun, and profitable, while it lasted. But Quotient wants to make sure at least a couple of coupon fairies end up paying a very big price for it.

Image sources: Brand Technologies

3 Comments

  1. Iris Marquez says:

    I need coupons

  2. What can I do if I find “IP fairy’s”?

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