Target Discontinues Coupon Due To Rampant Fraud

If you downloaded a web coupon that offered $5 off any $25 purchase at Target, you should know that you’ve been had. Someone altered a real coupon—removing the image and the word “toy,” in order to make it seem like it applied to any purchase. The original undoctored coupon, which was e-mailed to 85,000 Target customers, was for $5 off any $25 toy purchase, and Target is now pulling the coupon due to the rampant fraud.

Target says:

Our goal is to always surprise and delight our guests with great values, and we are disappointed that some of our guests may be inconvenienced by our need to respond to this fraudulent tampering and transferring.

The customers who originally received the coupon will be compensated with a $5 gift card. (Target says you’ll be notified by email.) Target has also placed signs near the registers indicating that the coupon is no longer valid.

Target Coupon Fraudulently Tampered with and Transferred [Target]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Bix says:

    I was once accquainted online with a guy who made up a Pizza Hut coupon out of thin air and got it on the major deal sites. Some people actually got stores to accept it.

  2. ReidFleming says:

    @Bix: I suppose it all depends on what the profit margin is. If it is still in the retailer’s monetary interest to make a sale at a lower profit versus no sale at all, they will probably go for it — even knowing the coupon isn’t legitimate.

  3. emona says:

    Ah, I saw a copy of this coupon at a Target register this weekend. I wasnt aware printable coupons were accepted anywhere anymore. My local Kroger refuses to take any that didn’t come from the paper.

    My family members forward me all manner of useless petitions, crappy poems and gas station boycotts but they miss the fradulent coupon bus every time.

  4. VicMatson says:

    Bix, I think we may be talking about the same site! The fraudster reproduced a coupon(free Pizza) specifally for dissatisfied Pizza Hut customers. He hosted it and it cost Pizza Hut hundreds of thousands.

    I reported it to a neighbor(PH management) and they refused them after. He told me it hit them at a time when online ordering was just starting and it lit up their order screens like Christmas trees!

    The poster was banned, not when I reported it to them, but when I told them I reported their knowledge of it to Yahoo!

  5. Uriel says:

    Why would anyone do such a thing to Target!?!

  6. rick_in_texas says:

    Reminds me of the story awhile ago about the guy who went to target with his own “sticker barcodes”. He got some electronics for pennies on the dollar but got caught because store security saw him put the stickers on the products.

    Thiefs will always try to get something for nothing. I say get a frigging job and pay for it like the rest of us.

  7. bobbleheadr says:

    Win for me. I already used my (legit) coupon for a present for my goddaughter, and now I get a $5 gift card? sweet.

  8. T16skyhopp says:

    Was gonna use this when i found some transformers, at least i’ll be getting a giftcard. that was nice of them.

  9. Concerned_Citizen says:

    So I guess the coupon said toys on it but someone figured out the computer did not enforce the toys part. Odds are we won’t be seeing another 5 dollar off toys coupon until target figures out a way to get the computer to enforce it.

  10. parad0x360 says:

    For starters I work at Target…

    This was a pretty big deal monday. There was a few communications from corporate on the issue and the ETL AP (security) guy came up and told everyone about it and they printed a bunch of notices to let people know.

    Alot of these coupons must have been faked and used in many different regions for target to pull all of them out of use. It sucks for the customers and it sucks for people who work there who have to explain why they cant use their coupons.

    Also it wasnt so much the computer not enforcing it. Targets system is actually very good compared to other retailers. Its that the direction is to override a coupon if for whatever reason it doesnt work so there was no reason for someone to distrust the customer.

  11. donkeyjote says:

    They will not accept the valid one that still says toy either.

  12. Noris159 says:

    I’m one of the people who reported this as fraud to Target corporate and I feel good about myself right now because dishonest scammers, the anti-consumerist, can’t use it anymore.

  13. jharrell says:

    Target’s own news release states:

    “Target no longer is accepting coupon offers for $5 off a $25 or more toy or general merchandise purchase at Target.”

    The use of the coupon for anything was by design and not fraudulent.

  14. imaLttlGrl says:

    @jharrell: No, they are saying that the toy coupon (which was legit) and the General Merchandise coupon (fraudulent) both will no longer be accepted b/c previously stores were accepting them b/c no one knew that they were fakes.

    I work for Target and accepted probably about 5 of these fraudulent coupons in about a weeks time because we had no idea that it was not one of ours. Two days before they posted we could no longer accept either of them, I had a lady use one and she had 6 of them printed off on a piece of paper saying that one of her friends had e-mailed them to her.

    At least the people who were supposed to really get the coupons will get rewarded, but you also have to wonder if they caught the person? Because sending out coupons to the rightful people a second time could possibly result in someone fraudulently reproducing them again because that person who did it most likely was one of the original people.

  15. kamel5547 says:

    @jharrell: No. The coupon was for “Toy Purchase” as stated in the statement issued by Target. Target will not take a $5 off of Toy or General Merchandise (the fradulent coupon) coupon at all, as they said in their statement.

    Basically they had to cover both categories as the coupon has been altered to cover general merchandise.

  16. humphrmi says:

    @Bix: When I managed several Domino’s Pizza’s (mind you this was over 20 years ago) we had a rule: if it looked like a coupon and it wasn’t more than $2 off, we took it. And we had a very liberal definition of “looked like a coupon” — we literally took coupons that customers drew with crayons.

    From a customer retention perspective (something that Domino’s was very concerned with 20 years ago), two bucks off a pizza was small potatoes. You bet the customer who drew a coupon with crayons called back and ordered more pizza. THAT was the point.

    Five bucks off $20 isn’t too bad today when you figure that retail is getting killed right now. I’d think they would set a time limit, say July 15, take the coupon until then, and call it a success. Oh well.

  17. sleze69 says:

    @humphrmi: Looked like a Domino’s coupon? We used to just make them up when we ordered domino’s coupons for delivery.

    “I have a coupon for 2 medium, 1-topping pizzas for $8…What color? Oh, this coupon is blue.”

  18. SpaceCat85 says:

    I’m surprised we don’t hear about this happening more often. Anyone with Photshop and a decent selection of fonts could do this. I can even name that font, or at least a very similar one-it’s a very common one among designers. But just because it’s easy to do, doesn’t mean you should do it.

  19. What is the difference between a $5 gift card and $5 off a purchase?

    Oh, and why can’t Target go ahead and honor the coupon on TOYS as originally intended?

  20. Mom2Talavera says:

    This pisses me off!

    If people keep doing this shit Target may discontinue printable/on-line coupons all together!

    Target is already really generous with the coupons. I check the site weekly and there is always new coupons!

  21. humphrmi says:

    @sleze69: Actually I said “looked like a coupon”, we didn’t care if it was Domino’s or not.

    @Mom2Talavera: Alternatively, instead of discontinuing coupons, Target could issue handguns to their managers and instruct them to shoot themselves in the foot. Same effect. Coupons drives sales during recessions. They offer $5 off hoping that people spend a lot more than $20, and in today’s economy getting someone to spend $50 or $100 in a retail store in one visit is quite a bit better than them not coming into the store at all.

  22. Mom2Talavera says:

    @SpaceCat85: lots of sites(like Organic use a program called “coupon printer”


    the coupons have a special border and other features only an authentic coupon would have. I’m shocked a company as big as Target doesn’t utilize a program like this.

  23. NinjaMarion says:

    @Corporate-Shill: Because not only were people using an altered version of the coupon, but what was obviously supposed to be a limit coupon only sent out to certain customers has been freely passed around the net and used many times, most likely many times by one person alone.

    As for the difference between the coupon and gift card, the gift card isn’t being sent out to every dishonest idiot that checks Fat Wallet and SlickDeals, and instead is only being given to those that the coupon was supposed to be for.

  24. Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

    I got one of those coupons, so curiosity caused me to scan it & then print it.
    The original got printed my my 4 year old Canon S750 in color, I printed the copy on a laser.
    Other than the color/B&W difference, they looked the same.
    These companies are just fooling themselves with these goofy programs that print a coupon without your ever actually seeing it.

    And I ended up throwing out both of them because I didn’t want the stuff due to the conditions printed on the coupon, but not stated on the site.

  25. MBZ321 says:

    @Greasy Thumb Guzik: Of course if you scan one of the coupons it will look the same…it isn’t like they can make it print out with holograms/UV things on it…the problem is each coupons Inc. (or “Bricks” as it is referred to on couponing sites), is that they are uniquely coded.

    The problem is, they can just be duplicated and most people do not know/have the time to check the numbers. The numbers can be typed in on a website to see if it was already redeemed/it isn’t a fake, but who is going to do that with lines of customers?

  26. manus manum lavat says:

    This post is in no way condoning the counterfeiting of coupons (that’s pure theft), but anyone else remember the days when you could get a coupon that just say “15% off” and didn’t require a minimum? Or even “$5” with no minimum purchase? Actually, there are still places that send out coupons like that. God bless those places.

    Granted, though, if it’s Target, you’re already getting things at a bargain without the coupon.

  27. Kierst_thara says:

    @MBZ321: But even if a store used a coding system like that and had the cashiers check every coupon, that’s still a bad way to go about things. If, as a customer, I received a coupon online, and then got to the store and was told ‘sorry, someone else on the internet already used that one’, it would generate a lot more bad will than if I’d never gotten a coupon at all.

    I understand why Target had to do what they did in this case since it was out-and-out tampering, but I think in general, companies should realize that if they release coupons online, they really can’t expect to control the number of people who might want to redeem them.

    If your profit margin can only withstand giving 5000 people X discount, then suck it up and get 5000 coupons professionally printed and mail them out the old fashioned way.

  28. aristan says:

    @jharrell: “General Merchandise” does not mean “Everything in the store” in the retail world. It’s not “Merchandise in general,” at least not in any store that I’ve worked in.

    GM is usually items that do not fit neatly into one of the other categories. General Merchandise is things like books & magazines or seasonal items. It’s called “General Merchandise” because “Odds & Ends” or “Leftover Crap” looks bad on the price sticker.

  29. Mom2Talavera says:


    I would say the only way one could use the fake coupons is to pay with cash. It would be stupid to use a bunch fake coupons at a store and then use your credit/debit card to pay.Plus one couldn’t go to the same store over& over…you would have to alternate stores.

    The only time I really use coupons is for food and I buy most of my food from these two health food stores in town. No long lines like a big box store.They do check. Most of the time I flirt with the pathetic douche at the co-op and he gives me the senior discount…anyways

    Target also sends me catalogs with a coupon card attached or this “clip-less coupon” card thing.

  30. AlphaWolf says:

    @NinjaMarion: the gift card isn’t being sent out to every dishonest idiot that checks Fat Wallet and SlickDeals, and instead is only being given to those that the coupon was supposed to be for.

    I see the store itself benefiting the most from the Fat Wallet site, people may not buy elsewhere if they can save $5 or 10% off, or they may choose to purchase something based on the coupon that they may not have bought at all.

  31. Major-General says:

    @parad0x360: Of course, in my experience the computer can’t tell if the transaction in question is for toys, pets, food, etc. Just that the correct dollar amount has been reached. Still sucks though. We had one were the person printed the entire email they got and said “Hey, I’ve already used it twice.”

  32. Angryrider says:

    Nice jobs b-holes! I was going to use the coupon for my video game purchases, since they were considered toys by the cashiers. But to use it for other purchases? That’s just despicable. Thanks for ruining it d-wads.