She appeared to be an ordinary housewife who drove a Toyota FJ Cruiser and lived with her husband, a retired commercial airline pilot, in a four-bedroom Southwestern-style home on an acre in northeast Phoenix. Ramirez amassed a fleet of 26 vehicles, including a Corvette, three Camaros and a toterhome, which is a recreational vehicle with trailer, Garza said.
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Ramirez also owned a foot Heritage boat and ATVs. Ramirez also rented a stash house nearby that she used for her coupon business and to hide a BMW and a Land Rover from her husband, Garza said. She said Ramirez duped her husband into believing she operated a legitimate business. Lake said Ramirez began selling fake coupons seven years ago, using eBay before launching her website in The website, savvyshoppersite. Phoenix police became involved after companies targeted in the scam partnered with industry watchdog Coupon Information Corp.
Lake said once the coupons were purchased from the website and verified to be fakes, the challenge was finding who was behind the Internet sales.
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As Internet crime rises, the challenge for law enforcement is showing who is actually at the keyboard, Lake said. But in this case, all investigators had to prove was that Ramirez controlled Savvyshopper. Ramirez used aliases and fake addresses to hide her identity, Lake said. A complex operation. Ramirez would write a letter to a manufacturer complaining about a product and saying she would never buy it again. The manufacturer in turn would send her a free product coupon.
Garza said investigators found a master file of these letters with fake names. Ramirez then arranged with a printing company that Lake suspects to be located in Asia to reproduce the manufacturer coupon in mass quantities. She then would sell the coupons online.
Ramirez would sell the coupons for half the face value, Lake said. She had hundreds or even thousands of customers; many were repeat customers, investigators said. Lake said Ramirez filled more than 20, orders. Some customers purchased large quantities of fake coupons. Lake said some buyers he contacted knew the coupons were fakes. Impact of fake coupons. While it was centered in Phoenix, it touched every state in the country.
Manufacturers produce a limited number of coupons to control the cost associated with the promotion. Large quantities of fake coupons result in a significant loss, officials said.
Lakes said fraud also causes manufacturers to give out fewer coupons and coupons with a lower face value. Representatives from Bar-S Foods Co.
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The company issued 1, of these coupons and received more than 45, back, according to the Phoenix police report. Miller said the group is working with law enforcement and industry partners to combat ongoing coupon fraud with measures such as placing holograms on coupons and educating the consumer. Lake said the two were hired about a year before their arrests. Surprise Ford in Surprise, AZ offers the most comprehensive availability of car service coupons in the area.
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