The coupons advertise unbelievable deals: $4 off a case of cola, $5 off a bottle of ibuprofen.
They look too good to be true, and they are.
The Lawrence Police Department is raising awareness about a set of fraudulent coupons that have made their way to local stores. They're believed to be circulating on the Internet or through e-mail, and what makes them unusual is that they feature a UPC bar code that actually works on store checkout systems.
One of the problems stores are having is that the coupons look like any other manufacturer's coupon and are difficult to spot. One likely sign of a fake is if a coupon advertises an unusually large discount, such as $2 to $5 off a product that costs less than $10.
"Revlon's not going to offer a $5 coupon on a $6 product," said Mike Smith, store director at Checkers grocery, 2300 La.
Employees at Checkers called police this week after they received an e-mail from one of their saleswomen warning of the scam. They checked their records and found that three of the coupons had been recently accepted, Smith said - two of them by the same woman who came to the store twice and each time used a coupon offering $5 off a bottle of Advil.
Checkers employees alerted their information technology staff members so they could block use of the fraudulent coupons, Smith said.
"They're pretty sophisticated-looking coupons," he said. "They look legitimate."
Ultimately, grocery stores who accept the coupons incur the costs because the manufacturers won't redeem them, police said.
In general, the fake coupons offer large discounts or a free item with no required purchase. The coupons are for products including Oil of Olay, Neutrogena, Pepsi, Revlon, Lysol, Tide, Hellman's Mayonnaise and Advil.
¢ In general, the fake coupons offer large discounts or a free item with no required purchase. The coupons are for products including Oil of Olay, Neutrogena, Pepsi, Revlon, Lysol, Tide, Hellman's Mayonnaise and Advil.