An online coupon scam could cost manufacturers millions, and years, to clean up, the Seattle Times reports. A California company says coupons it created as part of a marketing pitch were hacked and distributed across the internet. The firm responded by canceling all coupons related to the scheme, embarrassing even those customers who had legitimate ones.
"I really felt like a fool," says one consumer whose coupon was rejected. Others, however, were able to redeem the discounts, leaving retailers with the tab. While industry groups scramble to notify retailers, coupons for as many as 40 items are still in wide circulation online. The only upside, says an industry leader, is the honesty of "the whole coupon-trading community," which helped expose the fakes.