Coupon cops called as voucher fraud booms

Caroline Cassidy

Supermarkets who have been luring shoppers with money-off vouchers and discount deals are finding their tempting offers have come back to bite them.

Voucher fraud boom
Voucher fraud boom

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According to the Institute of Sales Promotion, customers are fast catching on to voucher fraud and some big name stores have been forced to call in the cops.

Some cunning consumers have been busy at the self-service tills where they can scan a voucher, then take it home, copy and reuse it again and again, often bagging themselves a trolley-load (or two) of free groceries in the process.

In July a couple were prosecuted for reusing a Tesco Clubcard voucher time and time again. The voucher offered £17.50 off their checkout bill but having used it a total of 62 times, the couple obtained £1,085 worth of groceries.

That was thought to be first case of prosecution for voucher fraud but with many shoppers facing tough financial times, there could be many more such cases brought to court.

The Institute of Sales Promotion estimates the cost of voucher fraud at more than £300,000 a year - in one case a major store lost a whopping £80,000 to such schemes.

Indeed, things are now so bad that a number of big brands are considering ditching coupons altogether.

Annie Swift, chief executive of the Institute, told the Daily Mail: "Our members have reported a massive surge in coupon misuse and in some cases plain fraud.

"Money-off coupons save consumers around £500 million a year. That's a lot, particularly when family shopping budgets are being squeezed.

"If companies issuing these coupons because of the potentially criminal activities of a small number of greedy people, it's consumers who will suffer."

What do you think - are the big supermarkets leaving themselves open to fraud because of self-service tills? Leave a comment below...