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If you’re going to try to get away with coupon fraud, it’s probably best not to act like you just scored a touchdown when your coupons go through. Two Winn-Dixie cashiers in Florida are accused of using coupons to steal more than $20,000 from their employer – then publicly celebrating their actions, in full view of the store’s surveillance cameras.

Oops.

19-year-old Janeva Cagle (pictured above at left) and 18-year-old Areli Gomez (pictured at right), both of Immokalee, were arrested on Monday evening after store management called police.

Investigators with the Collier County Sheriff’s Office responded and were told that the two suspects had been “fraudulently scanning manufacturer coupons into the cash register with no actual customer present”. Once the coupons were scanned, store managers said the two would take the equivalent value in cash from the register, and pocket it.

Cagle was the apparent mastermind (if you can call it that) of the scheme. According to store transaction records, she allegedly began exchanging coupons for cash back in May. In just two months, she managed to pocket $16,390, by scanning coupons that were never actually redeemed by customers. Gomez is accused of joining in the fun in late June. Her alleged participation in the scam, which netted her $3,650, only lasted two weeks.

That could be because the two started getting a little careless. The incident report says store management provided “very clear video” that they say shows the two women “scanning the coupons and removing the cash, putting the cash into their pockets”. On a couple of occasions, the report says “they can be seen dancing and giving each other high-fives in an apparent celebration”.

Way to commit coupon fraud on the down-low.

But soon, they had nothing to celebrate. Store management told investigators that the two provided written confessions when confronted with the video evidence and transaction records. The arresting officer says the two were “crying and visibly shaking” when he arrived on the scene.

Both women were charged with felony fraud and banned from returning to Winn-Dixie. Each was later released from jail on $5,000 bond. If convicted, they each face up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

But few coupon crimes are treated so severely, especially when committed by first-time offenders. Time and again, such cases tend to end with an order to pay restitution and a stern warning, in lieu of any fines or jail time.

And for that, these two alleged coupon criminals should consider themselves fortunate. Once their case is resolved, if they too manage to avoid a stiff penalty, they might really have something to dance and high-five about.

Image sources: Winn-Dixie / Collier County Sheriff’s Office

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