Instruments of the Noble Thief
or Weapons Against our Communities?

In 2012, the nation was shocked to learn that Phoenix Police officers had seized over $40 million in counterfeit manufacturer coupons. The investigation later revealed that the criminal enterprise responsible reproduced and sold four times that amount every year.


Even more surprising than the massive scope of this crime spree was that a suburban housewife orchestrated it. She and a team of co-conspirators produced and distributed an endless supply of high- and full-value fraudulent coupons into the marketplace. They were sold surreptitiously to unethical couponers across the nation and were suspected of being used regularly on the now-canceled television series Extreme Couponing.


When this Coupon Queenpin was arrested, news of this unprecedented case brought coupon fraud into the global spotlight like never before. It had everyone asking, “What’s the big deal about counterfeit coupons?” Alarmingly, this virulent crime costs communities nationwide both thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars.


As a leader in the research and analysis of the criminal shadow economy—illicit, for-profit activity that exists alongside a country’s official economy—David Lake, 30-year police veteran and CEO of the Center on Shadow Economics, writes about the devastating impact counterfeit coupons have on our communities.

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