Counterfeit coupon ring busted up in Arizona

Jul 10, 2012, 2:36 PM | Updated: Jul 12, 2012, 11:10 am

Three women have been arrested in Phoenix in connection
with the nation’s first counterfeit coupon ring.

In a press conference, police said a search warrant served
at 36406 North 29th Avenue yielded 22 guns and high-
quality fraudulent coupons from overseas worth about $25
million.

Three women were arrested in connection with the crime:
40-year-old Robin Ramirez, the alleged ringleader, 54-
year-old Marilyn Johnson, an alleged assistant and 42-
year-old Amiko “Amy” Fountain, an alleged assistant and
packager.

The coupons were sold via savvyshoppersite.com, which has no
connection to the local coupon mailer. Interested shoppers
had to be referred or invited to use the site, where they
could purchase the fraudulent coupons.

The scam focused on the production of manufacturer’s
coupons, because they offer either a free item or a
significant reduction in the item’s cost.

“These aren’t 50-cents-off coupons, these are free item
coupons,” said Phoenix Police Sgt. David Lake. “Some of
them, like for Iams, you get this coupon from [Ramirez]
for $10 or $20 and you can get up to a $70 item — walk
out out of the store with a $70 bag of dog food. If you
can get an unlimited number of those, think of how this
grows.

The counterfeit ring was allegedly using 12 different bank
and money accounts, one of which made about $2 million in
a single year.

“We took [Ramirez’s] shipping as far back as 2007 and can
see her doing it there,” said Lake.

Over 40 of the nation’s largest manufacturers reported
false coupons being used.

The investigation was conducted by the Phoenix Police
Department in cooperation with the Coupon Information
Corporation and FBI Internet Crimes Unit.

Shoppers using coupons purchased from the site could be
arrested if they attempt to use them, police said.

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Examples of the fake coupons are shown. (Photo: Sandra Haros/KTAR) Examples of the fake coupons are shown. (Photo: Sandra Haros/KTAR) Examples of the fake coupons are shown. (Photo: Sandra Haros/KTAR)

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Counterfeit coupon ring busted up in Arizona