A computer science student has been charged with fraud and counterfeiting for allegedly posting hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of bogus coupons on 4chan and other websites.
Lucas Townsend Henderson, 22, of Lubbock, Texas, was charged with wire fraud and trafficking in counterfeit goods in a criminal complaint unsealed on Wednesday. He is accused of posting fraudulent coupons online that allowed people to receive steep discounts on beer, food, game consoles and other consumer items even though the manufacturers never authorized the promotions.
Authorities also said he provided tutorials explaining how to print out the coupons and redeem them at stores.
“7.00 off a 40 OZ bag of hershey's kisses,” a Zoklet.net user with the ID of Anonymous123 wrote in a July 18 message. “Think about it. You can give someone special around 8x the chocolate you might normally be able to get them for the normal price. I don't recommend you use 8 of these coupons at once though, as spending $8(plus tax), for about $60 worth of chocolate might look suspicious.”
From July to March, Henderson used a variety of online identities to post hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of coupons for Microsoft Xboxes, Sony PlayStations, Tide laundry detergent, candy, energy drinks and other merchandise. In December alone, Proctor & Gamble incurred costs of $200,000 in connection with the detergent discounts even though it had never issued a single online coupon. The bogus documents contained a forged logo that read “Powered by SmartSource”
A student enrolled in the Rochester Institute of Technology's Computing and Information Sciences program, Henderson took pains to cover his tracks by using the TOR anonymizer to conceal his IP address, prosecutors said. FBI agents closed in on him after he failed to use the free service when posting a coupon to Zoklet.net, according to court documents.
Agents soon raided Henderson's home, where they found “a number of coupons for various food and beverage items.”
A PDF of the nine-page complaint is here. ®