Suspects in counterfeit coupon operation plead not guilty

Suspects in counterfeit coupon operation plead not guilty

Suspects in counterfeit coupon operation plead not guilty

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by Jennifer Thomas

azfamily.com

Posted on July 25, 2012 at 10:45 AM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 25 at 10:55 AM

PHOENIX -- Three women accused of running an international counterfeit coupon operation have pleaded not guilty.

Phoenix police raided three homes on July 10 and seized $25 million worth of coupons.

Robin Ramirez, 40, was the ringleader of the illegal enterprise, according to police. She was arrested along with Marilyn Johnson, 54, and Amiko Fountain, 42.

Police said Ramirez had the counterfeit coupons shipped in from overseas and then sold them on savvyshoppersite.com for about 50 percent of face value, bilking manufactures out of $400 million to $600 million.

Fountain and Johnson are suspected of helping operate the site and helping to ship the coupons.

Police believe the counterfeit ring had been operating in Phoenix since 2007.

The Coupon Information Corporation called it the largest counterfeit coupon case the industry has ever seen.

"They are variations, reproductions of what were at one point legitimate coupons," said Bud Miller with the Coupon Information Corporation.

Miller said consumers should never pay money for coupons.

"If you're a consumer out there and you purchased coupons from this website you certainly should not use them," he said. "You are subject to arrest."

The women pleaded not guilty in Maricopa County Superior Court Wednesday morning. Charges include forgery, fraud schemes and illegal control of an enterprise.

The judge set their initial pretrial conferences for Sept. 7.

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