Greetings from Day Two of Graphics of the Americas. I spent the morning at a brace of sessions at the Brand Protection Conference. The first was called “Fraud, Forgery, Counterfeits, and Deterrents,” featuring renowned security printing consultant Richard Warner. Mr. Warner provided some background of the economics of various types of fraud and counterfeiting, such as:

  • the cost of attempted check fraud from 2005–2007 amounted to $12.2 billion

  • in 2007, the amount of actual check losses came to $969 million

Much of the session concerned the topic of retail coupons. Now, while it may seem silly to think that saving 50¢, $1, or $2 on some item can pose any serious economic problem, the fact is that coupon scams are far more involved—and far more lucrative for the miscreants. The scam goes like this: counterfeiting rings 20 or so strong mass produce fake coupons for $1 or $2 off some product (based on legitimate store coupons). The foot soldiers go out and purchase those products, redeeming the coupons. Then, some time later, they return the products for full price. The difference is then the “profit.” It may sound like small potatoes, but with enough people and done enough times, can be quite the racket.

Funny, some manufacturers blithely ignore coupon fraud, naively assuming that it is "marketing" and "generating interest in a product." Well, these guys are returning the products! 

Meanwhile, employees of retail stores can surreptitiously swap $1- or $2-off coupons in a store register for actual money. In one somewhat famous case, an employee of a fast food chain nicked $15,000 using this scheme.

The second session was a keynote address by the Honorable Robert C. Tapella, Public Printer of the United States and head of the Government Printing Office. More about that session later.