Police uncovered a 5-year counterfeit coupon operation run out of a Phoenix, Arizona hotel room by 51-year-old Terry Darcy and her son. Target store analysts grew suspicious of Darcy when they found that she was getting large amounts of goods for free using coupons, so they contacted detectives from the Phoenix Police Business and Economic Stability Team.
Over a period of six weeks, the team reviewed the evidence, which included receipts and security footage, and found that in that short period of time the suspect stole $175,000 in products from the retailer. A raid on the hotel turned up master coupons, stacks of fake homemade coupons, and stolen products estimated to be worth more than $500. Officer James R. Holmes of the Phoenix Police Department told KPHO CBS 5, “We’re estimating probably about $300,000 a year in retail fraud.” It was money that the Phoenix woman used to fund an expensive $145-per-day heroin addiction.
The police determined that Darcy would purchase products from Target stores for free using copies of legitimate manufacturers’ coupons, then she would return the items for cash or store credit. Any store credit on gift cards would be used to pay the difference for items not covered completely by the fake coupons or would be sold at check cashing businesses in the area. Officer Holmes told KSAZ Fox 10, "She certainly had the equipment to make those counterfeit coupons look real…She would do this all day long everyday. It was almost like it was her job." The police officer also made note of the tax implications of Darcy’s scheme, telling KTVK, “But they’re also refunding what would have been the tax on that product. Now we all know, especially as we’re trying to get ourselves out of a recession, how important those tax dollars are to our cities, to the county and to the state.”
Terry Darcy was arrested and faces charges of theft by misrepresentation, possession of forged instruments, and trafficking in stolen property.