Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Hacking Groceries: Internet Coupon Fraud

Over the weekend, my wife and I were shopping at Magruder's, a local grocery chain to which we're fiercely loyal, and we noticed a handwritten sign attached to the credit-card reader in the checkout line:

"Attn customers: Due to coupon fraud, we are unable to take Internet coupons."

A store manager, who asked me to kindly leave his name out of this post, said the store-wide policy went into effect last year, after it became apparent that there was "a lot of cheating going on. People were gang-printing these things by the reamfuls."

I've written about teenage hackers creating wholesale counterfeit coupons to get free pizza and other stuff at popular fast food joints, but the type of coupon fraud that's going on these days makes that type of activity seem like amateur hour.

Curious as to just how bad the coupon fraud problem really is, I checked out the Web site for the Coupon Information Center, a non-profit group based here in Alexandria, Va., which represents the manufacturers that issue 70 percent of the coupons in the United States today. Turns out that the Internet is helping to facilitate coupon fraud on a unprecedented scale.


Read more ...

Brian Krebs on Computer Security. The Washington Post Company.

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