Counterfeit free-product coupons on "Extreme Couponing"

TLC's "Extreme Couponing" returns for another season tonight. But when will the show address the enormous number of counterfeit coupons used by its shoppers throughout its previous seasons?

After Season 3's premiere of TLC's Extreme Couponing aired earlier this year, my email box blew up with viewers asking me to look into the origins of some of the coupons used on the show. Coupons for free coffee, free diapers and free laundry detergent turned the heads of many viewers, as these are the kinds of high-value free coupons manufacturers typically do not issue in large quantities.

After the enormous counterfeit coupon ring was busted in Phoenix earlier this year, many people noticed that large numbers of counterfeit free-product coupons offered for sale on the SavvyShopperSite.com counterfeit-coupon website were identical to coupons used by "Extreme Couponing" shoppers.

Part of the trouble, though, is that counterfeit coupons do not always show up on the Coupon Information Corporation's list of counterfeit notifications right away too. As time passes and counterfeit coupons make their way through the system, they may show up on the CIC's fraud list weeks to months after they're spotted on Extreme Couponing.

Based on numerous emails from my blog and column readers, I looked again at episodes from the previous season which resonated with viewers. Were these large numbers of free-product coupons used on "Extreme Couponing" legitimate... or fake?

Free Maxwell House Coffee (up to $10.90 value)
Added to CIC counterfeit list: April 12, 2012
View fraud alert
Used by: Joni Myers-Crothers, All-Stars episode 3. Quantity: Appears to be 24

Free Huggies Big Pack Diapers (up to $44.99 value)
Added to CIC counterfeit list: April 25, 2012
View fraud alert
Used by: Joni Myers-Crothers, All-Stars episode 3. Quantity: Appears to be 4
Used by: Jen, All-Stars episode 3. Quantity: Appears to be 2

Free Glad Kitchen Trash Bags (no maximum value)
Added to CIC counterfeit list: February 13, 2012
View fraud alert
Used by: Joni Myers-Crothers, All-Stars episode 3. Quantity: Appears to be 6

Free Angel Soft 12-roll Toilet Paper (up to $15.00 value)
Added to CIC counterfeit list: December 13, 2011
View fraud alert
Used by: Joni Myers-Crothers, All-Stars episode 3. Quantity: Appears to be 8

Fresh Step Cat Litter
Added to CIC counterfeit list: February 14, 2012
View fraud alert
Used by: Joni Myers-Crothers, All-Stars episode 3. Quantity: Appears to be 6 (show notes $112 worth purchased)

Free Tide Laundry Detergent (up to 32 loads)
Added to CIC counterfeit list: March 26, 2012
View fraud alert
Used by: Chris Duff, All-Stars episode 7. Quantity: 200
Used by: Joni Myers-Crothers, All-Stars episode 3. Quantity: 19

Free Quilted Northern Toilet Paper 18ct. (up to $14.00 value)
Confirmed counterfeit in October, 2011 by Georgia-Pacific after an inquiry from the CIC
Added to CIC counterfeit list: October 20, 2012
View fraud alert
View statement from CIC
Used by: Joni Myers-Crothers, All-Stars episode 3. Quantity: Appears to be 4
Used by: Christine Perry, All-Stars episode 7. Quantity: 4
Used by: Chris Duff, All-Stars episode 7. Quantity: Appears to be 4

Free Stouffer's Family Size Meals
Added to CIC counterfeit list: December 13, 2011
View statement from CIC
Used by: Jen, All-Stars episode 3. Quantity: Appears to be 7 (show graphics confirm $70 worth)

Please note that this list is by no means exhaustive -- this was comprised from looking at just three episodes from the previous season of "Extreme Couponing." (Confirmed-counterfeit product coupons were used in additional episodes as well.) As I was preparing this list, I reached out to all of the shoppers involved, asking where each of them obtained their free coupons, while expressing my concerns about the coupons' legitimacy if they did not come from the manufacturer. Joni Meyer-Crothers was the only person to respond Via email:

"Thanks for your concern. I, myself, take the issue very seriously. I confirmed with the store directly that all the coupons I used were reimbursed and none were counterfeit."


Now that one of the largest sources for counterfeit free-product coupons has been eliminated, will the new season of "Extreme Couponing" reflect a more realistic approach to saving with coupons? Or, if the episodes were filmed before the big counterfeit bust, will we see more counterfeit coupons being used on the show?

And, most importantly, will the shoppers that have used counterfeit coupons face any consequences for their actions?


Unfamiliar with the counterfeit coupons and coupon fraud on TLC's "Extreme Couponing? Read more here:

In the media:



This show is disgusting

Just had to say that. Thank you for supplying the reality about this show. I got into couponing to support my family. I get asked all the time "are you an extreme couponer? Those people only pay 15 cents for $1,000+ worth!" No I'm an honest couponer. I tell everyone this show is NOT legitimate. I have watched some episodes here and there and just saw the episode Jen vs Joni. The counterfeits were so blatantly obvious with all the high value free coupons.

On this 3rd season I noticed they stopped focusing on coupons and strategies. Now its only about the 'competition' and the details are scarce. This has guilty conscience written all over it. Now they KNOW viewers can figure this stuff out, can point out the fraud and they try to cover it up by not focusing on the coupons. So yeah it makes me sick to see these coupon criminals getting support from friends, family, and TLC to go and rip off a business. Teaching viewers that this stuff is normal and what couponers do. I've had people get nasty with me because they saw me using coupons and verbally attack me as if I was someone from that show. IE how dare I buy larger quantities and 'hoard'. I am NOT a crazy hoarder who can't resist a deal. And I don't buy in quantities over 10 on anything.

There are 4 types out there: those who coupon anyway they can get away with, couponers who know better and play by the rules, those that want to coupon but don't feel compelled to, and others who think couponers are evil hoarders who clear shelves and slow them down in the grocery line. This show doesn't help anyone. It needs to do an apology to everyone and shut down if they haven't already. Just my 2 cents.

Thanks for your comment

I think many of us are tired of being compared to the extreme couponers. I've been doing this (and teaching this!) before the show even existed, and I was glad to hear it hasn't been renewed. (With the big counterfeit coupon ring in Phoenix busted last summer, where will they get all their counterfeit free product coupons from? It's awfully hard to have an entirely free-product trip when your source of free coupons disappears..!)

And yes, the most recent season was careful to show few, if any, close-up scenes of the coupons being scanned. Wonder why?

tonights show

Ok, so I could only tolerate watching the 1st show which featured 2 shoppers trips. And I thought I was freaky about my stockpile! This really can become a sickness.

The first couponer had over $700 before coupons AND she split it up into 87 transactions. Give me a break. They must be addressing issues the critics (us) have questioned. I believe the store shown was a Piggly Wiggly....and they are lucky that was not a Krogers, which only allows 2 doubles and 5 like coupons PER DAY, PER HOUSEHOLD!

She was having a party for her vow renewal and wanted it to come in out of pocket under $20! I was laughing at the party favors (Kraft BBQ sauces) but she did attain her $20 goal. Bravo!

The 2nd shopper was from Long Island and shopped at a store I'd never heard of. She said she puts couponing before ANYTHING in her life and would die if she ever stopped. They show her on the beach w/ her 2 small boys and husband down in a hole in the sand clipping coupons. Come on.

Her haul was supposed to feed her family of 16 a home cooked meal for under $100. That is $6.25 per person and she was making chicken parm. and pasta and her own sauce. They baked the meal in foil pans and show 2 liter bottles on the table and disposable dishes! For that much a person I am expecting fancy wine and desserts. I was NOT impressed.

She is shown at the end of the show loading her car in the parking lot and finds some coupons that fell out of her binder, which caused her to go over her $100 goal. I think it was close to 20 bucks worth. I was screaming GO BACK IN THE STORE! Heck Jewel will take them off the next time you shop.

Needless to say, I won't watch be watching it again. It is to staged to be "real".

I look at the coupons

I watched too.

The second shopper in the first episode, Gia, used some suspect coupons -- she had ten coupons for $5 off Driscoll's strawberries. The strawberries were $3, and she used the $20 in overage toward other groceries.

A quick blog search shows that over the summer, Driscoll's was offering 5 at a time to bloggers as part of a blog giveaway campaign earlier this summer... but there are an awful lot of them on Ebay right now too:

http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_trksid=p2047675.m570.l1313&_nkw=driscoll...

Legit or not? Hard to say. But kind of suspicious - how does one legitimately obtain ten $5 coupons for Driscoll's?

She also had seven coupons for $4 off Iams cat food. They're on Ebay here:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/4-x-5-Iams-Cat-Food-Coupon-20-in-Totals-Value-/2...

They're high-value, but they look like the kind you find at the veterinarian's office sometimes.