MANHATTAN (CN) – Federal prosecutors have criminally charged a college student with making counterfeit, print-at-home coupons that cost manufacturers hundreds of thousands of dollars after the student distributed them online, with “tutorials” showing other people how to do it.
Lucas Townsend Henderson, 22, of Lubbock Texas, is charged with wire fraud and trafficking in counterfeit goods. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison for the fraud count and 10 years for counterfeiting.
He is accused of distributing the bogus coupons, and instructions, anonymously on the Internet.
Prosecutors say people redeemed $200,000 worth of counterfeit coupons for a single product – Procter & Gamble’s Tide laundry detergent – in December 2010.
Proctor & Gamble, which is the largest coupon issuer in the United States, “has never issued a single online print-at-home coupon,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in unsealing the complaint. “The costs associated with the redemption of those counterfeit coupons were subsequently borne by Proctor & Gamble and the various retailers victimized by the fraud.”