FBI Makes Arrest For Counterfeit Coupon Related Crimes

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Thanks to Budget Savvy Diva for sharing this post with us!  I’m so glad that justice has been served and people can realize that fraudulent coupon use and production is illegal!  You will be fined and charged for using coupon illegally.

Lucas Townsend Henderson, 22, known as “The Coupon Guy”, Coupons Thumb was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation yesterday and charged with counterfeit coupon related crimes (wire fraud and trafficking in counterfeit goods). Henderson allegedly distributed counterfeit coupons and an instruction manual on how to make counterfeit coupons via a website best known for child pornography and racist and anti-Semitic images. Many of the website’s participants engaged in active discussions about how to best exploit the counterfeit coupons and what kinds of excuses to use if caught. If convicted, Henderson faces up to 30 years in prison and financial penalties

Henderson spent the last several years at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), majoring in computer science with a focus on computer security and forensics. He worked at RIT’s Information & Technology Services’ Help Desk. Ironically, Henderson’s resume includes a reference to taking a class entitled Ethics in IT. It is our hope that RIT will take appropriate actions.

“How to Make Coupons,” a 45-page tutorial on designing coupons that would “scan at most any store in the U.S.,” thus tricking retailers.

The manual opens with a page listing “The 6 Commandments of Coupon Making,” including the admonition that the tutorial not be uploaded “to any permanent hosting.” Instead, the document should be shared on “anonymous image boards” (like 4chan) where “posts expire after a period of time.” Placing the tutorial at a permanent online location “makes it much easier for companies and moral assholes to come across them and warn stores about them.”

According to a U.S. District Court complaint sworn by FBI Agent Andre Cicero, the bureau has been probing the distribution over the Internet of counterfeit coupons designed to look like ones offered on smartsource.com, which is produced by News America Marketing, a subsidiary of Murdoch’s media conglomerate.

See tips on How to Spot a Fake Coupon here

What are the penalties for coupon fraud?

Longest prison sentence: 17 years
Highest financial penalty: $5 million
Prison sentences of three to five years are not uncommon. Financial penalties generally vary, but have often been in excess of $200,000.

Don’t forget to watch for Fake Coupon Warning’s as they arise.

Thanks, CIC , thesmokinggun, & Budget Savvy Diva!


  1. Heather says

    I really enjoyed this post, I know first hand that company’s are in the process of boosting up security on their coupons. It is 2011! Technology is great, some people think it is just a piece of paper. Wrong, those bar codes can tell the company a lot of info. It is a digital finger print. * Did you know that when you print off of the internet the company can track your I.P. address to the print you receive. I have been couponing for awhile and unless you use the coupon as stated in the small print outlined by the manufacture, then YES you ARE committing fraud.
    Is It worth it? For what, a buck.
    I know my comment was a little bit of a rant but MOST COUPONERS would not even dream of handing over their coupons to the cashier without being 100% on their transaction.

  2. says

    I read this on this Mama Loves Her Bargains. And I was like “good”. These people are committing fraud. And what’s worse is that he was teaching others to do the SAME thing. I’m sure he saved a lot of money, but it is still not worth it. If he thought this through he would have known that money is not worth the consequences that he is going to face if he gets caught.

  3. says

    As far as information being gleaned from coupons — I am more suspicious of the ‘rewards’ cards merchants give out. They not only tell them what you bought, they identify who you are. The forms that have to be filled out give them a complete demographic to match the sale of products – who buys what, what age they are, where they live, do they rent or own, etc.

    Linda, loved your comment. But, I just had to see if there are any coupons for bail… And there are! http://www.retailmenot.com/view/zzzsbailbonds.com

    If you are arrested for coupon fraud, I wonder if they will still take your coupon?


  4. Dana says

    I agree with Heather, it’s not worth it for a buck.

    Linda- you made me laugh and then Mike actually finding a coupon for bail. I never would have thought! Maybe he did make the coupon just in case.

    It’s sad that we all have to deal with this type of behavior when we’re using coupons legally and just trying to save our families money

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