The police have asked major retailers to be aware of people who are reusing money-saving coupons illegally. Cash-strapped consumers are turning to illegal methods to save money in stores and new technology is allowing people to reproduce coupons with ease.
Many stores have increased the number of vouchers they are issuing to encourage people to spend in their stores. Many retailers have said the problem is having more self checkouts as these allow people to use fraudulent vouchers much more easily.
Estimates from the industry have said that fraudulent vouchers are costing retailers tens of millions every year. Some stores are considering stopping vouchers because the fraud levels are so high. The Bank of England commented, “consumers are facing the biggest reduction in their living standards in recent decades.”
The first prosecution for voucher fraud was pursued by Tesco against Penny and Nigel Ward. The couple pled guilty to reusing vouchers which saved them over £1000 in groceries. They were sentenced to 12 months community service as well as ordered to pay compensation to the supermarket.
The Institute of Promotional Marketing has said, “it would be far better if people just stuck to the terms and conditions, we’re not going to be asking the police to arrest people who must use every coupon but we are concerned about more serious links to criminal organisations.”
The consumer group Trading Standards Institute has commented, “if people are intentionally misusing these vouchers, they are potentially committing fraud and for this they can be prosecuted in court.” MoneySavingExpert.com has said, “people should be very cautious about misusing vouchers as it is a potentially serious offence. If you want to avoid prosecution do not deceive or lie to the stores as this is what will get you in trouble. Mistakenly using a coupon twice is not an offence”