Couple tries to defraud Staples

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Investigators say Douglas and a co-conspirator created more than 1,100 Staples rewards accounts, often using fictitious information. Douglas used a computer script to query a Staples website and seek unclaimed customer loyalty rewards for purchases he didn't make.https://www.yahoo.com/finance/news/couple-charged-connection-scheme-defraud-staples-233005517.html 
it is unclear (in article) if it was your rewards account or some that they setup?

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"used a similar method to claim more than $527,000 in cash rebates"
Per the DOJ - claiming the $527,000 is illegal - righ... (more)

camiolo (Oct. 07, 2016 @ 9:37p) |

FWIW, Staples' "Add a Receipt" function is not operative again. I wonder if it is related.

NoFixedAddress (Oct. 11, 2016 @ 10:02a) |

Use them while you can as people are reporting many are not working. OTOH the newer ones are 10/50, 20/80, 10/10, 20/20.... (more)

PruHTP (Oct. 16, 2016 @ 10:11p) |

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I learned the hard way not to f*ck with Staples.

Article with a lot more detail.
Basically, they:
1. Wrote a script to create fake rewards accounts
2. Write another script that entered in random codes in the website under the "add a receipt" until it found one that worked, claiming those rewards onto the fake account
3. Use those claimed rewards to buy items in the store
4. Sold those items on eBay.

According to the article, step 2 was usually only worth "often less than a dollar at a time", they still were able to claim $889,000 in rewards using this.
They also managed to claim $527,000 in cash rewards from Staples using similar tricks.

I believe this is the source.
DOJ said: John Douglas and one of his associates created more than 1,100 Staples rewards accounts, often using fictitious names, addresses, and contact information. He then created a computer script to query a Staples web site and seek unclaimed customer loyalty rewards for purchases that he did not make. The computer script made thousands of queries a day, amassing more than $889,000 worth of rewards in small increments, often less than a dollar at a time. The Douglases and others then used the rewards like cash to buy merchandise at Staples retail locations throughout the southern United States and along the eastern seaboard, as far north as Massachusetts. Analyn Douglass sold much of the fraudulently obtained Staples merchandise on eBay

In addition, the Douglases and the associate allegedly used a similar method to claim more than $527,000 in cash rebates from Staples for products that they did not purchase.

For the first part I think Czechmeout is correct, he was probably adding receiipts. I don't know what the Add Receipt form was like before, but it now requires the 17 digit barcode and the total amount for store purchases, and order number and billing zip for online orders. Was it only asking for the barcode or order # earlier? The 17 digit barcode isn't too hard to guess with enough attempts -- 4 digit store number + 6 digit date + 5 digit transaction number + 2 digit register number. Store number is probably on the website and google maps, transaction number is probably incremental, and stores don't have that many registers. Online order number is even easier to guess as it's incremental.

Getting the rebates is just as easy -- just query the 17 digit barcode against the SER page.

Shame on Staples for not catching on sooner. IMO anyone whose rebates or rewards disappeared and weren't properly issued can use this against Staples

Pretty ironic that this is posted on Fatwallet. For years, Fatwallet members (and many others) defrauded Staples by using fake coupons that were generated by themselves or bought on eBay until Staples finally figured it out years later. In addition, many gamed Staples system using last week's coupons after they expired.

Staples will be out of business before 2019 IMHO.

EradicateSpam said:   Pretty ironic that this is posted on Fatwallet. For years, Fatwallet members (and many others) defrauded Staples by using fake coupons that were generated by themselves or bought on eBay until Staples finally figured it out years later. In addition, many gamed Staples system using last week's coupons after they expired.

Staples will be out of business before 2019 IMHO.

  

Your snarky comment about people gaming Staples using last week's expired coupons is totally out of line and off base.

In fact, it was in a written Staples memo to stores posted on FW, that they would have an unwritten two day grace period that coupons (most, not all) could be scanned and used.  The SYSTEM is programmed to accept them, and no 'gaming' takes place whatsoever, as the SYSTEM you claim we are gaming, is part of the GAME to accept them. 

 

EradicateSpam said:   Pretty ironic that this is posted on Fatwallet. For years, Fatwallet members (and many others) defrauded Staple*s by using fake coupons that were generated by themselves or bought on e*Bay until Staple*s finally figured it out years later. In addition, many gamed Staple*s system using last week's coupons after they expired.

Staples *s will be out of business before 2019 IMHO.

  Actually people are reporting that all the Staple*s coupons ($10 off & $25 off) stopped functioning as of 10/1. So that hole has finally been closed.

I'll stand by my definition of "gaming the system" as what you wrote is exactly what I meant. As you clearly understand, Staples setup a policy to accept coupons for 2 days after because sometimes people miss the last day (out of town, etc.). You know they did not intend that someone POST on a Sunday on a deal forum (as you did every week), opportunities to take advantage of the system by buying on sale items with the prior weeks coupon. What you and others did was never their intention, and you know it.

Please give me more RED, my diet is lacking it.

MISTERCHEAP said:   
EradicateSpam said:   Pretty ironic that this is posted on Fatwallet. For years, Fatwallet members (and many others) defrauded Staples by using fake coupons that were generated by themselves or bought on eBay until Staples finally figured it out years later. In addition, many gamed Staples system using last week's coupons after they expired.

Staples will be out of business before 2019 IMHO.

  

Your snarky comment about people gaming Staple*s using last week's expired coupons is totally out of line and off base.

In fact, it was in a written Staple*s memo to stores posted on FW, that they would have an unwritten two day grace period that coupons (most, not all) could be scanned and used.  The SYSTEM is programmed to accept them, and no 'gaming' takes place whatsoever, as the SYSTEM you claim we are gaming, is part of the GAME to accept them. 

So please get off your high and mighty, holier than thou soapbox, you don't know what you are talking about.

  Maybe you should get off your  high and mighty, holier than thou soapbox, you don't know what you are talking about. The poster was talking about the 16 digit coupons which take $$$$ off transactions and not the general use 5 digit coupons. The two day grace period is from a internal memo (it is a written policy) for store personnel to use for customer situations that may arise and not for the general public to use/abuse because they know about it working. Those who attempt to use it during the two days after the expiration date on the coupon are "Gaming" the system. 

Czechmeout said:   According to the article, step 2 was usually only worth "often less than a dollar at a time", they still were able to claim $889,000 in rewards using this.
They also managed to claim $527,000 in cash rewards using similar tricks.
With numbers like that, they will get the chance to high-five the Chiu brothers.

PruHTP said:     Actually people are reporting that all the Staple*s coupons ($10 off & $25 off) stopped functioning as of 10/1. So that hole has finally been closed.
Are you saying that all $10/$30 and $25/$75 no longer work or are you saying that there's no grace period?
 

There used to be a URL (probably 5 years back), you enter a code in the URL and it would generate a printable coupon with bar code. Old timers should remember this. Those were the days when office max used to come everyweek to my house and one western digital harddrive from circuit city for around $20

my4mainecoons said:   
PruHTP said:     Actually people are reporting that all the Staple*s coupons ($10 off & $25 off) stopped functioning as of 10/1. So that hole has finally been closed.
Are you saying that all $10/$30 and $25/$75 no longer work or are you saying that there's no grace period?

  Go over to SD as there are discussions in the Ad threads that the  $10/$30 and $25/$75 are getting declined. As to the grace period for 5 digit codes, it still exists but from what I've heard from some GMs it's coming up requiring Mgr passwords to process on Sunday/Monday (old process required Mgr passwords on Tuesday and after). Also per policy, if the code is on your mobile device you are to place the mobile device on the counter so that the cashier can see that it has a Staple*s logo and type in the number from it. 

MISTERCHEAP said:   
EradicateSpam said:   Pretty ironic that this is posted on Fatwallet. For years, Fatwallet members (and many others) defrauded Staples by using fake coupons that were generated by themselves or bought on eBay until Staples finally figured it out years later. In addition, many gamed Staples system using last week's coupons after they expired.

Staples will be out of business before 2019 IMHO.

  

Your snarky comment about people gaming Staples using last week's expired coupons is totally out of line and off base.

In fact, it was in a written Staples memo to stores posted on FW, that they would have an unwritten two day grace period that coupons (most, not all) could be scanned and used.  The SYSTEM is programmed to accept them, and no 'gaming' takes place whatsoever, as the SYSTEM you claim we are gaming, is part of the GAME to accept them. 

So please get off your high and mighty, holier than thou soapbox, you don't know what you are talking about.

  
About 16 years ago it was a big thing and it was very popular on the deals forums and I'm pretty sure it happened here.

PruHTP said:     Go over to SD as there are discussions in the Ad threads that the  $10/$30 and $25/$75 are getting declined. As to the grace period for 5 digit codes, it still exists but from what I've heard from some GMs it's coming up requiring Mgr passwords to process on Sunday/Monday (old process required Mgr passwords on Tuesday and after). Also per policy, if the code is on your mobile device you are to place the mobile device on the counter so that the cashier can see that it has a Staple*s logo and type in the number from it. 
I don't have the patience for SD.  I used several $25/$75 last night and they all went through w/o issue.

EradicateSpam said:   I'll stand by my definition of "gaming the system" as what you wrote is exactly what I meant. As you clearly understand, Staples setup a policy to accept coupons for 2 days after because sometimes people miss the last day (out of town, etc.). You know they did not intend that someone POST on a Sunday on a deal forum (as you did every week), opportunities to take advantage of the system by buying on sale items with the prior weeks coupon. What you and others did was never their intention, and you know it.

Please give me more RED, my diet is lacking it.

  

Their 'intention' was never stated, you are making up intentions and disparaging people for using a coupon within their system's allowed rules.   Staples is a big company, they obviously monitor the deal boards like SD/FW. To assume they weren't capable of turning off given coupons from working is pretty clueless IMO.

I am not interested in 'intentions', I am interested in WRITTEN policies which clearly stated the two day grace period was allowable. They have every ability to change the policy or deactivate the Q's in their system. If it goes against your morals to use an expired coupon that the system allows for, that's your call, but the preaching to everyone else that they've committed some scam against Staples is just BS as far as I'm concerned.

I am specifically referring to the ream/case paper coupons in my rant, no others,

PruHTP said:   
MISTERCHEAP said:   
EradicateSpam said:   Pretty ironic that this is posted on Fatwallet. For years, Fatwallet members (and many others) defrauded Staples by using fake coupons that were generated by themselves or bought on eBay until Staples finally figured it out years later. In addition, many gamed Staples system using last week's coupons after they expired.

Staples will be out of business before 2019 IMHO.

  

Your snarky comment about people gaming Staple*s using last week's expired coupons is totally out of line and off base.

In fact, it was in a written Staple*s memo to stores posted on FW, that they would have an unwritten two day grace period that coupons (most, not all) could be scanned and used.  The SYSTEM is programmed to accept them, and no 'gaming' takes place whatsoever, as the SYSTEM you claim we are gaming, is part of the GAME to accept them. 

So please get off your high and mighty, holier than thou soapbox, you don't know what you are talking about.

  Maybe you should get off your  high and mighty, holier than thou soapbox, you don't know what you are talking about. The poster was talking about the 16 digit coupons which take $$$$ off transactions and not the general use 5 digit coupons. The two day grace period is from a internal memo (it is a written policy) for store personnel to use for customer situations that may arise and not for the general public to use/abuse because they know about it working. Those who attempt to use it during the two days after the expiration date on the coupon are "Gaming" the system. 

  

No PRU, he was not talking ONLY about 16 digit, one time use Q's.

From his post:  In addition, many gamed Staples system using last week's coupons after they expired. 

we are talking about the 5 digit paper (ream & case) coupons, which he specifically called me out on in another post.

 

my4mainecoons said:   
PruHTP said:     Go over to SD as there are discussions in the Ad threads that the  $10/$30 and $25/$75 are getting declined. As to the grace period for 5 digit codes, it still exists but from what I've heard from some GMs it's coming up requiring Mgr passwords to process on Sunday/Monday (old process required Mgr passwords on Tuesday and after). Also per policy, if the code is on your mobile device you are to place the mobile device on the counter so that the cashier can see that it has a Staple*s logo and type in the number from it. 
I don't have the patience for SD.  I used several $25/$75 last night and they all went through w/o issue.

 They are working on finding all the series and shutting the down. They can't shut off all 16 digit codes because they are used in other ways. And if you used your Rewards # with them it may lead to your Rewards # being revoked. There are numerous changes coming in the next few weeks (some of which have already been turned on in some stores).

MISTERCHEAP said:   
PruHTP said:   
MISTERCHEAP said:   
EradicateSpam said:   Pretty ironic that this is posted on Fatwallet. For years, Fatwallet members (and many others) defrauded Staples by using fake coupons that were generated by themselves or bought on eBay until Staples finally figured it out years later. In addition, many gamed Staples system using last week's coupons after they expired.

Staples will be out of business before 2019 IMHO.

  

Your snarky comment about people gaming Staple*s using last week's expired coupons is totally out of line and off base.

In fact, it was in a written Staple*s memo to stores posted on FW, that they would have an unwritten two day grace period that coupons (most, not all) could be scanned and used.  The SYSTEM is programmed to accept them, and no 'gaming' takes place whatsoever, as the SYSTEM you claim we are gaming, is part of the GAME to accept them. 

So please get off your high and mighty, holier than thou soapbox, you don't know what you are talking about.

  Maybe you should get off your  high and mighty, holier than thou soapbox, you don't know what you are talking about. The poster was talking about the 16 digit coupons which take $$$$ off transactions and not the general use 5 digit coupons. The two day grace period is from a internal memo (it is a written policy) for store personnel to use for customer situations that may arise and not for the general public to use/abuse because they know about it working. Those who attempt to use it during the two days after the expiration date on the coupon are "Gaming" the system. 

  

No PRU, he was not talking ONLY about 16 digit, one time use Q's.

From his post:  In addition, many gamed Staples system using last week's coupons after they expired. 

we are talking about the 5 digit paper (ream & case) coupons, which he specifically called me out on in another post.

  You called yourself out!

thats a switch..

no more strapless stores here

The article did not say how Staples found out.

ayearaway said:   The article did not say how Staples found out.Nobody would ever tell you something like that. Someone at HQ probably ran an analytics query on one of their databases.

scripta said:   
ayearaway said:   The article did not say how Staples found out.
Nobody would ever tell you something like that. Someone at HQ probably ran an analytics query on one of their databases.

  I'll place it on being more simpler than that and state a few Staple*s store employees thought it was odd and had reported directly to LP where LP finally did an investigation. LP just isn't that smart to do things on their own. 

Is this just another example of incompetent Staples IT people?  One day if Staples fire all of their IT staff and hire all new people again, there will be no more so called loopholes in 16 digit coupon code, sequential transaction #, auto renewing coupons, capitcha free online submissions.

Not to mentions simply non working mobile webpages from links.

scripta said:   
ayearaway said:   The article did not say how Staples found out.
Nobody would ever tell you something like that. Someone at HQ probably ran an analytics query on one of their databases.

  
Theory is they count on a percentage of people not redeeming.

When the percentage of redemptions went above a certain threshold, it probably didn't take much to see something in common for the accounts they were creating (same store, same region, same IP address block, ...)

Whatever the case, hopefully IT can now be directed to fix their crummy website.

New coupon line coming: "Membership number must be supplied during purchase to receive benefits."

I fully understand the part of the 'scam' where they obtained unredeemed Staples Rewards checks and used them.

This is the part of the article I don't understand:

In addition, the Douglases and the associate allegedly used a similar method to claim more than $527,000 in cash rebates from Staples for products that they did not purchase.


if they didn't use the rewards to purchase these rebate items (to have the transaction #), how could they obtain rebates for items they didn't buy? how would they get rebates on EZ rebates w/o transaction #'s.

Did they infiltrate their POS system to see purchases and receipt #'s?
 

MISTERCHEAP said:   I fully understand the part of the 'scam' where they obtained unredeemed Staples Rewards checks and used them.

This is the part of the article I don't understand:

In addition, the Douglases and the associate allegedly used a similar method to claim more than $527,000 in cash rebates from Staples for products that they did not purchase.


if they didn't use the rewards to purchase these rebate items (to have the transaction #), how could they obtain rebates for items they didn't buy? how would they get rebates on EZ rebates w/o transaction #'s.

Did they infiltrate their POS system to see purchases and receipt #'s?

  There is a way to do it, BUT it requires a store Managers ID and password to do so. Basically it requires someone on the inside who knows about a certain hole in the POS system software.

I noticed a while back that they do not do 'instant' pricematches on their website... in the past coupons could be used and then price matches done regardless of the coupons. That certainly died... it's certainly about time that they've started to clean up all the holes w/ the coupon series, certainly has taken them long enough... RIP below cost items at $taples.

I'm confused on the charge of 'Stolen goods'
The Rewards dollars used to pay for this were legit.
Yes/maybe they were obtained illegitimately - but the Rewards Dollars/alternative currency was legit.
How can you be accused of stealing if you're using legitimate payment?

camiolo said:   I'm confused on the charge of 'Stolen goods'
The Rewards dollars used to pay for this were legit.
Yes/maybe they were obtained illegitimately - but the Rewards Dollars/alternative currency was legit.
How can you be accused of stealing if you're using legitimate payment?

  
"The state must prove that the defendant received or possessed the property for a dishonest purpose. If, for example, the person acquired possession for the purpose of returning the property to its lawful owner, no crime has been committed."

Their script was clearly intended to mine for rewards that they could use for their own purposes, and those rewards did not belong to them. 
 

dealsnmoredeals said:   
camiolo said:   I'm confused on the charge of 'Stolen goods'
The Rewards dollars used to pay for this were legit.
Yes/maybe they were obtained illegitimately - but the Rewards Dollars/alternative currency was legit.
How can you be accused of stealing if you're using legitimate payment?

  
"The state must prove that the defendant received or possessed the property for a dishonest purpose. If, for example, the person acquired possession for the purpose of returning the property to its lawful owner, no crime has been committed."

Their script was clearly intended to mine for rewards that they could use for their own purposes, and those rewards did not belong to them. 


"used a similar method to claim more than $527,000 in cash rebates"
Per the DOJ - claiming the $527,000 is illegal - right?
But, per the DOJ, spending the $527,000 is legal - aka, the DOJ isn't prosecuting them for spending that money.

By the same token - claiming the Rewards Dollars is illegal - but why is spending them illegal?
(I'm assuming they spent them in a legal fashion, and didn't break Staples rules on spending)

FWIW, Staples' "Add a Receipt" function is not operative again. I wonder if it is related.

my4mainecoons said:   
PruHTP said:     Go over to SD as there are discussions in the Ad threads that the  $10/$30 and $25/$75 are getting declined. As to the grace period for 5 digit codes, it still exists but from what I've heard from some GMs it's coming up requiring Mgr passwords to process on Sunday/Monday (old process required Mgr passwords on Tuesday and after). Also per policy, if the code is on your mobile device you are to place the mobile device on the counter so that the cashier can see that it has a Staple*s logo and type in the number from it. 
I don't have the patience for SD.  I used several $25/$75 last night and they all went through w/o issue.

  Use them while you can as people are reporting many are not working. OTOH the newer ones are 10/50, 20/80, 10/10, 20/20. Some with as low as 14 days to expiration and some with 90 days to expiration. CN-USA and eBay are drying up.



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