Could we interest you in a coupon for $10.82 off Maxwell House coffee? $24 off a box of Huggies diapers? $60.99 off a bag of Royal Canin dog food?

Well, sorry. Police in Phoenix, Arizona say those offers are no longer available. And neither are the people who were offering them.

Investigators said today they’ve broken up a multi-million dollar fraudulent coupon scheme. CBS5 News in Phoenix reports that police raided three homes, confiscated $25 million in fake coupons, and arrested three women: 40-year-old Robin Ramirez, 54-year-old Marilyn Johnson and 42-year-old Amiko Fountain. Oh, and they also seized a small arsenal of 22 guns, plus a 40-foot speedboat and a quarter-million dollars worth of vehicles.

Police say more than 40 manufacturers, including Procter & Gamble, PepsiCo and the Hershey Company, were victimized by the high-quality forgeries, which have cost the companies in the neighborhood of a half-billion dollars.

Many of the forged coupons promised “free” products, and were offered for sale on a website called SavvyShopperSite.com. The website shows the aforementioned coupons for sale, plus more than 100 others. Prices range anywhere from 10-90% of the stated face value, plus shipping.


The site also includes some curious stipulations: “You must have a referral to shop with us,” “You should not advertise that you have purchased any coupon,” “Do not share this information with people that you don’t actually know,” and “No new couponers.”

Alleged ringleader Ramirez faces counterfeiting and money-laundering charges; all three women could serve prison time and be ordered to pay fines and restitution.

In announcing its role in the investigation leading to the arrests, the Coupon Information Center summed up with advice for couponers: “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”

So tell your Royal Canin-eating dog, there’s no such thing as a free lunch: even that “$60.99 off” coupon would have set you back 16 bucks.

Updated on July 13: Read more about the story here.

And another update on July 16: Read more here.

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