PD: 3 AZ women arrested in counterfeit coupons case - Tucson News Now

UPDATE

PD: 3 AZ women arrested in counterfeit coupons case

Photo by Todd Jackson, cbs5az.com Photo by Todd Jackson, cbs5az.com
Robin Ramirez Robin Ramirez
Amiko Fountain Amiko Fountain
Marilyn Johnson Marilyn Johnson
PHOENIX (CBS5) -

A widespread counterfeiting and forgery operation linked to a Phoenix home has led to the arrests of three women and the seizure of $25 million in fake coupons, Phoenix police said.

More than 40 of the nation's largest manufacturers were victimized in what is believed to be the first case of its kind in the U.S.

Phoenix police culminated an eight-week investigation by serving search warrants at three Valley-area homes Tuesday. 

Those arrested were identified as the alleged leader of the operation, 40-year-old Robin Ramirez, and her two helpers, Amiko Fountain, 42, and Marilyn Johnson, 54. Each were booked into jail on charges of illegal control of an enterprise, forgery, counterfeiting, fraudulent schemes and artifices and trafficking in stolen property.

The residents in the home were forging coupons that offer customers free or highly discounted items, said Officer James Holmes of the Phoenix Police Department. For coupon users, these are called "high value" coupons and they are primarily the same as cash, Holmes said. 

Police confiscated $2 million worth of assets that included $240,000 in vehicles, 22 guns, a 40-foot speed boat and other assets. Officers also seized packing material and equipment used to process the coupons.

Holmes said high quality copies of manufacturers' coupons began to surface in the U.S. from an unknown source about four years ago.

"This is a significant fraud," said lead investigator Sgt. David Lake.

"I was contacted by one of the companies who had been asked to look into the source of these coupons by Proctor & Gamble," Lake said.

Lake said the victim companies, along with Coupon Information Corporation, hired private investigators to find where the coupons were being sold and investigators found several in Arizona.

The coupons were distributed through a website called SavvyShopperSite.com. The false website is not connected to consumer magazine Savvy Shopper.

Ramirez is accused of "bringing in these coupons from overseas in large quantities and selling them on her website for 50 percent of face value," Lake said.

The bogus website was selling the phony coupons online for hundreds of dollars, police said. In return, customers would receive coupons valued at two to three times what they spent, Lake said.

"These were free-item coupons," Lake said. "Some of them, like for Iams, you get this coupon from her for $10 and you can get a $70 item. Walk out of the store with a $70 bag of dog food. If you can get an unlimited number of those, think how this grows."

Police said the scope of the investigation and the economic impact - hundreds of millions of dollars in losses - goes beyond imagination.

Ramirez faces charges of controlling and operating an illegal enterprise, forgery, money laundering and counterfeiting.

Stay with cbs5az.com and CBS5 News for updates on this developing story.  

Copyright 2012 CBS 5 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

  • Local newsMore>>

  • Border Patrol agents arrest 57 undocumented immigrants

    Border Patrol agents arrest 57 undocumented immigrants

    Saturday, June 23 2018 1:30 AM EDT2018-06-23 05:30:32 GMT
    (Source: Border Patrol Tucson)(Source: Border Patrol Tucson)
    (Source: Border Patrol Tucson)(Source: Border Patrol Tucson)
    Tucson Sector Border Patrol agents assigned to the Ajo Station arrested a large group of aliens during a heat wave, some in distress, including a pregnant female, west of Lukeville Friday afternoon.  Agents were alerted to the group’s location after receiving a call from the Sonora, Mexico’s 9-1-1 center relaying information from persons within the group. The callers, stated they had crossed the border illegally, and requested assistance.   Ajo Station age...
    Tucson Sector Border Patrol agents assigned to the Ajo Station arrested a large group of aliens during a heat wave, some in distress, including a pregnant female, west of Lukeville Friday afternoon.  Agents were alerted to the group’s location after receiving a call from the Sonora, Mexico’s 9-1-1 center relaying information from persons within the group. The callers, stated they had crossed the border illegally, and requested assistance.   Ajo Station age...
  • Firework sales begin, can be lit starting Sunday

    Firework sales begin, can be lit starting Sunday

    Friday, June 22 2018 11:40 PM EDT2018-06-23 03:40:36 GMT

    The Fourth of July is creeping up quick, and that means several vendors like Desert Sky Fireworks on Cortaro and I-10 are getting ready for the season. The location set up shop on Friday.  "Lining them all up on the road -- lighting them all up and competing with the neighbors," said Ashley Walling, who runs the shop. Fireworks sparked her interest at an early age.   She started selling them when she was sixteen in ...

    The Fourth of July is creeping up quick, and that means several vendors like Desert Sky Fireworks on Cortaro and I-10 are getting ready for the season. The location set up shop on Friday. "Lining them all up on the road -- lighting them all up and competing with the neighbors," said Ashley Walling.

  • Volunteers clean graffiti out of Peppersauce Cave this weekend

    Volunteers clean graffiti out of Peppersauce Cave this weekend

    Friday, June 22 2018 9:53 PM EDT2018-06-23 01:53:32 GMT

    A popular spot for outdoor recreation has become overrun with graffiti once again. Dozens of volunteers will continue efforts to clean more than 1,500 graffiti tags around Peppersauce Cave this weekend. Central Arizona Grotto, a caving club out of Phoenix, has organized people from all over the state to help remove roughly 800 tags. Previous clean up trips by the group have already lifted approximately 750 tags, according to organizer Ray ...

    A popular spot for outdoor recreation has become overrun with graffiti once again. Dozens of volunteers will continue efforts to clean more than 1,500 graffiti tags around Peppersauce Cave this weekend. Central Arizona Grotto, a caving club out of Phoenix, has organized people from all over the state to he

Powered by Frankly