Keeping an Eye Out for Counterfeit Coupons
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"We clip coupons every week. Hopefully we can use some of them,” said Marianne Greco.
Marianne has coupons for all kinds of groceries.
"Cereals and snacks, baking, beverages,” she said. "Try to keep it somewhat alphabetical."
For she and other shoppers, being thrifty pays off at Wegmans, and at other stores.
"At BJ's, they'll take their store and others. Sometimes I can save 30 dollars depending on what I'm buying. And that's really helpful."
But a recent case in Arizona, where three women were arrested with $40 million worth of fake coupons, highlights the challenges coupon users, not to mention retailers, face.
"Fraud can be a problem,” said Jeanne Colleluori, Wegmans spokesperson.
It's something Wegmans battles with a clear police regarding use of manufacturers coupons.
"So far, we've been fortunate that we have not had a big problem with coupon fraud in our stores."
The supermarket chain won't accept coupons for free items. It doubles many coupons up to 99 cents, but limits the number of times coupons for products can be used in a day.
"We understand that especially in tough economic times, coupons are very important to our customers and we don't want to deprive them of that, but we do have to have some policies in place as well."
In the Arizona case, the women involved allegedly purchased the phony coupons overseas, and then turned around and sold them on eBay and other web sites.
"It's discouraging, because just like anything, a few people can ruin something and give something a bad rap,” said Melissa Zambito.
Couponing expert Melissa Zambito runs the website Coupons Are My Cash. She says spotting fakes can be tricky. If you have questions, she says call the manufacturer. Charging for coupons should raise a red flag.
"You should never have to pay for coupons. They should be free. You might have to pay for your Sunday paper, but you should never have to pay for coupons."
The Arizona case means law enforcement is aware of the problem of counterfeit coupons, which retailers say costs them tens of millions of dollars, and can drive food prices up. A common problem, says Zambito.
"I don't believe it was an isolated case, because there are so many people out there looking to make a cheap buck."
Making it more difficult for people hoping to save a buck... why people clip coupons in the first place.