Imagine a problem so big — yet so subtle — that it’s costing U.S. retailers and manufacturers hundreds of millions of dollars per year. It’s a method of counterfeiting a currency so simple that instructions are available through the click of a mouse. It’s a crime so insidious that many people participate unwittingly,with the result that money disappears into a black hole.
Often considered the scam nobody talks about, paper coupon fraud costs up to $600 million annually, according to the Alexandria, Va.-based Coupon Information Corp. (CIC). These costs are borne mainly by product manufacturers for which the coupon is redeemed, or by the retailer delivering the discount. Rest assured, however, that money is coming out of the pockets of these retailers and manufacturers in the end, through cutbacks in offers and rising product prices to absorb these costs.