PD: 3 AZ women arrested in counterfeit coupons case - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.


PD: 3 AZ women arrested in counterfeit coupons case

Posted: Updated:
Photo by Todd Jackson, cbs5az.com Photo by Todd Jackson, cbs5az.com
Robin Ramirez Robin Ramirez
Amiko Fountain Amiko Fountain
Marilyn Johnson Marilyn Johnson
  • More newsMore>>

  • Official: 3 bodies retrieved from inside ferry

    Official: 3 bodies retrieved from inside ferry

    Saturday, April 19 2014 3:52 PM EDT2014-04-19 19:52:12 GMT
    The captain of the ferry that sank off South Korea, leaving more than 300 missing or dead, was arrested early Saturday on suspicion of negligence and abandoning people in need. Two crew members also were taken into...More >>
    A coast guard official says divers retrieved three bodies from inside a ferry that sunk off South Korea, raising the confirmed death toll to 36 with more than 265 people still missing, most of them high school students on...More >>
  • Montgomery native wins Ancil Payne journalism award

    Montgomery native wins Ancil Payne journalism award

    Saturday, April 19 2014 3:50 PM EDT2014-04-19 19:50:55 GMT
    A Montgomery native and former student at St. James High School has won the Ancil Payne Award for Ethics in Journalism. Mazie Bryant, who is the editor-in-chief of the University of Alabama's CrimsonMore >>
    A Montgomery native and former student at St. James High School has won the Ancil Payne Award for Ethics in Journalism.More >>
  • Creeping landslide devouring part of Wyoming town

    Creeping landslide devouring part of Wyoming town

    Saturday, April 19 2014 3:43 PM EDT2014-04-19 19:43:28 GMT
    A sudden lurch in a creeping landslide in the northwest Wyoming resort town of Jackson split a house in two and forced workers to abandon efforts to stabilize the hillside.More >>
    No one can say when the mountainside collapsing into this Wyoming resort town will give way. But it appears increasingly likely that when it does, it's going to take a piece of Jackson with it.More >>

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.

Powered by WorldNow