ppod_citn-728x90
ppod_citn-320x100

Facebook coupon groups

It started with a hatchet and is now being done with a scalpel, but the coupon industry’s battle against couponing “glitch groups” on Facebook is ongoing, some six months after it began. So coupon fraudsters who breathed a sigh of relief after surviving the initial shutdowns, might not want to get too complacent.

Oh, and they might not want to threaten to stab or behead so-called “snitches”, either. But more on that later.

It was half a year ago that Facebook lowered the boom on couponers who were using the social media site to promote fraudulent couponing. About 100 “secret” and “closed” groups, that members thought were protected from the prying eyes of outsiders, suddenly disappeared.

Investigators working on behalf of the coupon industry had provided Facebook with evidence of activity that violated the site’s community standards at best – and were unethical, fraudulent or outright illegal at worst – with members openly sharing how to exploit “glitches” in higher-value coupons’ bar codes that allow them to be scanned and accepted on lower-cost items for which they’re not intended.

So without warning, in one wave after another, Facebook deleted the offending groups.

The mass deletions sent shock waves through Facebook couponing groups of all types, as everyone from coupon “glitchers” to insert sellers to ordinary everyday coupon users wondered whether their groups would be next. Six months later, that shock has largely subsided – but industry efforts to shut down the glitchers hasn’t.

Those efforts have quietly continued, little by little, since the first 100 or so groups were wiped out. In the past week alone, Facebook has deleted several more glitch groups. And investigators say they’re keeping an eye on many others, and are ready to notify Facebook – and the authorities if necessary.

“Despite the fact that this activity continues to occur in closed and secret groups, both Facebook and industry investigators are able to monitor content and intervene where necessary,” Brand Technologies president Jane Beauchamp told Coupons in the News. The investigative services firm spearheaded the initial Facebook investigation on behalf of coupon-issuing clients, and remains on the case.

“Cease and desist orders have been issued against the most egregious offenders and this will continue,” Beauchamp said. “Manufacturers and retailers have been provided sufficient detail – including pictures, descriptions and actual receipts – to pursue further legal action if they so choose.”

336x280-CITN-3

Much like the groups that were shut down before them, the latest Facebook groups to be deleted were found to have violated Facebook’s community standards that prohibit its platform from being used to “facilitate or organize criminal activity that causes… financial damage to people or businesses.” Purposely misredeeming coupons – and teaching others how to do it – is essentially “theft by deception,” the coupon industry argues, or the equivalent of shoplifting.

Members of one group shared how to use a $10 off Zyrtec coupon on trial-sized bandages, and pocket the difference in cash. Or a $6 Prilosec coupon on small bottles of dish soap. Or a $5 Insync Probiotic coupon on a bag of cough drops. One member showed off pictures of her shopping haul and her receipt, showing how she loaded up on more than $500 worth of products for less than $30, by exploiting coupon glitches – “way too many to name,” she said proudly, to hearty congratulations from her cohorts:

(click to enlarge the below screen shot)

Target glitches

Something else that violates Facebook’s community standards is “threats of physical harm to individuals.” That would seem an apt description of a particularly alarming post that one glitch group member made, threatening “snitches” who might cause her group to be deleted – right before her group did get deleted:

(click to enlarge the below screen shot)

Facebook threat

The post (complete with “head on a platter” reference, and a symbol of a knife in case you missed the gist of the threat) didn’t work as a deterrent, since investigators were already monitoring the group and Facebook promptly shut it down. If coupon glitching alone doesn’t get a group banned, threatening people with a knife – even in emoticon form – probably will.

There are still Facebook glitch groups out there, but Beauchamp says they can consider themselves on notice. “Facebook continues to be a cooperative partner” in responding to investigators’ calls for action against coupon fraudsters, she said.

“Mind your own business,” one glitch group member told critics of their activities. For companies that are losing millions to people who abuse their coupons – and passing along the costs to the rest of us – “minding their business” by monitoring and stopping the fraud is exactly what they’re aiming to do.

Top photo background image source: rose3694

4 Comments

  1. Couponer Lover says:

    I don’t have any idea how ya’ll don’t understand the difference between groups that share deals and coupons and follow “STORE ERROR” glitches. There is nothin wrong about the picture above about scoring a deal. Do we have coupon frauders out there? The answer is yes, However not all groups misuse coupons, we follow policies and Do whats right. Ya’ll are a joke. Get over yourselves.

    • Get over yourself. If you misuse or abuse coupons, you are a fraudster, have no morals whatsoever, are basically a thief and scum.

  2. Pingback: Coupon Glitches - SFCBeyond.org

  3. Súper me economizó un montón!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

Privacy Policy
Disclosure Policy