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In what looks to be something of a recent trend, Walmart is apparently trying to stop the spread of coupon glitching, by pressing charges against the cashiers who enable it. It happened recently to a Walmart cashier in Wisconsin, and to another in Iowa. Both cashiers were new on the job, both were talked into accepting coupons that were incorrectly used by persuasive customers, and both ended up getting fired and criminally convicted.

But there was one crucial difference in the two cases – the Wisconsin couponer whose coupon misuse got her cashier in trouble, got away with it. The Iowa couponer didn’t.

31-year-old Jeri Atilano of Council Bluffs, Iowa (pictured at right, above) was convicted of second-degree theft this week, four months after her cashier met the same fate. Police said Atilano would frequent the local Walmart, and took a particular liking to the checkout lane staffed by 25-year-old Keisha Kephart (pictured at left).

Kephart’s employers became suspicious that she was moving a lot of merchandise, but not getting much money for it. They found that she was improperly accepting high-value coupons on low-priced items for which they were not intended. In other cases, they said she was manually marking down prices as “ad matches”, when no such competitors’ prices actually existed.

So they called police. Kephart was arrested last December, and charged with causing her employer a loss of some $4,000 worth of merchandise over several months beginning that August.

Concurrently, in Wisconsin, the same thing was happening. Walmart cashier Brenda Fry of Camp Douglas was arrested at roughly the same time, for improperly accepting coupons from a coupon-glitching customer, who convinced Fry to give her thousands of dollars in overage by allowing her to use her coupons on incorrect items. That customer was never publicly identified, or charged, so Fry took the fall for the whole scheme, pleading no contest earlier this month to a felony charge of theft by false representation.

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But back in Council Bluffs, the investigation didn’t end upon Kephart’s arrest. This time, they tracked down the couponer, too.

Atilano was identified and arrested in January. She was charged not only with second-degree theft, but also conspiracy to commit a non-forcible felony and ongoing criminal conduct.

Kephart copped a plea back in February. She was sentenced to two years of probation, and ordered to pay $2,059.47 in restitution to Walmart, plus $1,015 in fines and court costs, to be reduced upon the completion of 75 hours of community service.

Atilano, however, pleaded not guilty and headed for trial. And on Tuesday, she was convicted of second-degree theft. She was sentenced to time already served after her arrest, plus two years of probation, and ordered to pay an unspecified amount of restitution and $281 in court costs.

So the customer who misused coupons, arguably got off easier than the cashier who let her. Yet, unlike in Wisconsin, both were ultimately held accountable.

Walmart can’t catch everyone who misuses coupons. But if a particular couponer does it enough, or a cashier allows them to, Walmart no doubt hopes cases like this send a clear message – to cashiers and customers alike.

Images: Pottawattamie County Sheriff’s Office / JeepersMedia

5 Comments

  1. Mandyshouse@aol.com says:

    Adjusting down a coupon is fraud especially since the store you work for gets what ever dollar amount the coupon is for and the way you said adjust coupon to 95 cents actually stole money from the customer I can see why you are a cashier not a really smart person your so judgemental in your ignorance. .

  2. Tara McCready says:

    Nobody did anything wrong in either case it is the fault of corrupt Walmart management its never Walmart corporates fault just the dummies who work there . target stores are doing the same thing and running of most if not all couponers WHO enter there stores…. However that wont last long because there stores are losing money at alarming rates because some people don’t have alot of money and coupons help and yet denied at checkout please Walmart and target executives if you happen to read this i know there are crooks out there but with all things in prospective do not allow you’re crappy employees to ruin you’re image ….thanks god bless.

    • Neither did anything wrong? Being poor doesn’t give you an excuse to be a thief. Cannot wait until all stores get rid of coupons and the couponers follow.

      • You know there are tons of families that need these coupons. And there are tons of people that use them correctly. You shouldn’t stick your nose up to people that are less fortunate than you!

    • Nobody did anything wrong? That’s where you are wrong. #1, a customer should NEVER expect a cashier to accept a coupon for an item that the coupon was not MEANT for. #2, the customer had absolutely no business expecting any kind of overages! If the customer had an item that was 95 cents and the coupon was for $1, that’s where the cashier should have made the adjustment and made the coupon for 95 cents. I work as a cashier in a grocery store, on Easy Scab/Self checkout, and I can tell you I see a lot of coupon users. Some try to use coupons on things that the coupon isn’t meant for, often the computer will catch it and bring it to my attention. Yes,….. I have seen my share of coupon abusers. I”m waiting for the day that manufacturers do away with coupons because of the abuse. But that’s not likely, just because it’s the manufacturers way of getting you to buy their product.

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