Beware of counterfeit coupons

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By Jim Carr By Jim Carr

PHOENIX -- Consumers using coupons they find online is on the rise, but be careful or they could get you in trouble.

According to the Coupon Information Corporation, counterfeit coupons are becoming more common with most of them originating online.

The FBI believes a good chunk of those fakes were the result of Lucas Henderson, 22. Henderson was arrested by the FBI in 2011 in New York. He's accused of creating fraudulent coupons and posting them on the website SmartSource.com for consumers to print out.

Those coupons, the FBI claims, resulted in the loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars to manufacturers of products like Tide and Bagel Bites.

The CIC says consumers who use fake coupons could wind up in trouble, too, because, while buying coupons isn't illegal, buying illegal coupons is -- even if you don't realize they're fake.

Bud Miller with the CIC explains ways consumers can watch out.

“The first thing is, to my knowledge, there are no free product coupons that you can print on your home equipment. That stopped around 2002 due to the counterfeiting issue,” he explained.

Miller also warns against using exceedingly high coupons and paying money for coupons. He says that exposes you to buying fake or stolen coupons.

He also says photocopying or using a coupon to buy a product it wasn’t intended for is also illegal.

The CIC keeps a list of fake coupons it identifies and updates the list daily.