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Joann Wells arrest

It’s something many couponers saw coming years ago, and it’s finally happened – a reality show star on the cable network TLC has been arrested and charged with misusing coupons and defrauding a store out of thousands of dollars.

The only thing is, the TLC show is not “Extreme Couponing”. It’s “Gypsy Sisters”, a show with its own brand of outrageousness, but not necessarily the type that involves coupon abuse.

29-year-old Joann Wells, a Gypsy Sisters co-star, has been charged in connection with a scam at a Cary, North Carolina Target. She turned herself in last week, after a warrant was issued for her arrest.

Police tell Coupons in the News that Wells befriended two 20-year-old female Target cashiers, and over the course of ten days last December, the trio allegedly scammed the store out of some $12,900 in merchandise. Investigators are not releasing many details of the scheme, other than to say that they believe the cashiers “ran fake bar codes on merchandise”, and “would force-enter coupons that were not accepted by Target” in order to bring Wells’ totals down to nothing for cartloads full of stuff.

Wells is then accused of giving the cashiers gift cards as a “thank you” for all of their help. Police report seizing two $50 Xbox gift cards and four $25 Olive Garden gift cards upon the arrests of the two cashiers in February, once their bosses figured out something was amiss.

Somewhere along the line, one or both of the arrested cashiers named Wells as their alleged accomplice. By that time, she was far from Cary, North Carolina – the Virginia resident had temporarily moved to West Virginia to take part in season two of her sisters’ reality show. She finally returned to Cary last Thursday to turn herself in, on charges of obtaining property under false pretenses, and felony conspiracy.

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In a lengthy, grammatically-challenged Facebook post for her fans, Wells denied the charges. “Just cause I set back and I don’t respond does not mean everything you hear is the truth,” she wrote in part. “I turned myself in because I don’t got nothing to hide or RUN from.” She went on, “I used legit coupons like half the world… I had managers check and accept my coupons not my problem they accepted them I used an app called Shop Kick and target mobile app!”

If you’re not familiar with “Gypsy Sisters”, TLC describes the show as a chance to visit “the thriving Gypsy community in West Virginia to experience life in the Stanley family.” Four women “lead this outrageous family with their own set of rules, and where everything is taken to the extreme.”

Even, apparently, the couponing.

Wells is sixth-billed, after her two sisters and three cousins. TLC describes her as “the good-natured one of the bunch. However, don’t let her quiet, gentle side fool you – she loves bad boys and always finds herself in the middle of the drama.”

In this case, most likely, not quite the drama she expected. She’s due back in court on July 17th.

(Update: Wells was sentenced after pleading guilty – read the story here: “Busted TLC Reality Star Ordered to Pay Target $14,786”.)

Image sources: Target, Wake County Sheriff’s Office

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