Anatomy of a fake coupon

When a good deal surfaces, it can be hard to ignore depending on the allure of the offer. Whether it’s a 50 percent off coupon at a popular restaurant, a buy one get one free offer on a pair of shoes, or a $10 certificate good toward the purchase of $25 or more at a department store, a tempting bargain often creates a strong incentive to visit a business. A recent scam preys on individuals seeking such deals by using an unbelievably valuable coupon offer.

Kohl’s is a popular retailer that sells a wide range of products. The company periodically sends lucrative discounts and coupons to its customers through the mail and has a strong, successful rewards program. In a recent Facebook post, a scammer released an image of a fake Kohl’s coupon. The counterfeit coupon used the Kohl’s name, trademark messaging, and disclaimer information typically contained in an actual Kohl’s coupon. It also offered an unrealistically valuable “Take $75 off any purchase of $80 or more” incentive to shop at the store.

The scammer hoped to lure individuals into clicking the link on the coupon to draw them into a non-Kohl’s website. There, the scammer could infect the shopper’s computer with malicious software or fool the person into handing over valuable personal information.

To avoid clicking on a fake coupon, it’s important to learn the tell-tale signs that give away the nature of the beast. Here’s a breakdown of the anatomy of a fake coupon, using the scammer-generated counterfeit Kohl’s offer as an example:

Kohls scam image

  • The offer is too good to be true. Any promotion of 93 percent off should be regarded as suspect until proven otherwise.
  • The expiration date does not have a definitive cap. “Tuesday 2016” isn’t a specific date and can be any Tuesday in the year, including the last Tuesday of the year. An expiration date for a valuable offer that lasts for 7 months is extremely rare.
  • Misspellings in an ad from a major retailer are rare.
  • The website “” is not “” Don’t be fooled by the dash.

If a coupon you discover on the Internet contains these items, disregard it. It’s probably a scam. If this type of coupon is shared in a post by someone on your “friends” list, do not share it with your friends. Tell your friend the post is likely to be a scam and ask the individual to remove it. Never share anything with your friends unless you’re certain it will cause them, and yourself, no harm.