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The Rising Threat of Online Coupon Fraud and How to Stop It

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In the realm of retail, the alarming specter of coupon fraud looms large, imposing a staggering cost of $165 million over three years, as revealed by a 2021 report. This illicit practice involves the exploitation of promotional codes by fraudsters for personal gain. This article endeavors to dissect the multifaceted landscape of online coupon fraud while elucidating the pivotal role of digital fingerprinting as an innovative defense mechanism against this escalating menace.

Understanding coupon fraud

At its core, coupon fraud is a nefarious act that entails the misuse of retailer coupon codes through unscrupulous methods. These underhanded tactics encompass:

  • Coupon Aggregators and Generators: Certain websites compile coupon codes, often contravening retailer terms and spawning counterfeit codes that deceive unsuspecting customers.
  • Coupon Stuffing: This fraudulent maneuver entails the application of multiple coupons to a single order, effectively exceeding the permissible limits of discounts prescribed by the retailer.
  • Coupon Misredemption: Fraudsters engage in the application of codes to items that are ineligible for discounts or employ unauthorized multiple redemptions.

A significant conundrum arises in the form of bot networks, which mechanize the processes of coupon mining, application, and subsequent reselling on clandestine markets. An example includes trying to reuse first time customer codes.

The ramifications of coupon fraud

The reverberations of rampant coupon fraud are far-reaching, exacting a heavy toll on retailers' promotional ROI and profit margins. The repercussions include:

  • Loss of revenue stemming from the redemption of invalid discounts.
  • Incremental administrative costs incurred due to the need for fraud reviews.
  • Substantial damage to brand reputation, as customers unwittingly receive spurious coupon codes, eroding trust in the retailer's offerings.
  • The adoption of labor-intensive manual fraud detection methodologies that invariably lag behind the efficiency of bots, rendering them incapable of keeping up with the pace of fraudulent activities.

The role of digital fingerprinting in detecting coupon fraud

In this maelstrom of fraudulent activities, digital fingerprinting emerges as a beacon of advanced fraud protection, orchestrated through a multifaceted approach that involves:

  • Identifying Fraudster Devices: This technique facilitates the correlation of specific devices with instances of spurious redemptions, enabling a precise mapping of nefarious activities.
  • Linking Accounts Across Sessions: By establishing connections between fraudulent accounts over time, digital fingerprinting dismantles the intricate web of manipulation woven by fraudsters.
  • Detecting Bot Activity: Non-human patterns and abnormally swift sequences are instantly flagged, spotlighting the intervention of automated bots.
  • Analyzing Code Misuse: The method scrutinizes instances of coupon stuffing and the redemption of invalid codes, effectively pinpointing fraudulent activities.
  • Strengthening Fraud Context: The fusion of digital fingerprinting with other contextual signals furnishes the most potent form of detection.

Through responsible deployment, digital fingerprinting empowers retailers and eCommerce companies to identify devices and accounts that are pivotal in perpetrating fraudulent acts. The real-time monitoring and comprehensive analytical capabilities endowed by this technology bestow retailers with the nimbleness required to exert swift control over their coupon promotions.


The specter of coupon fraud, encompassing everything from stuffing tactics to the ominous influence of bots, casts a looming shadow over retailers, eroding both their revenues and resources. In this disconcerting landscape, digital fingerprinting stands tall as an advanced, device-centric shield, poised to reclaim lost profits while providing genuine customers with the true value they deserve. This technology not only bolsters the fight against coupon fraud but also fortifies the trust and integrity that underpin the retail ecosystem. To learn more about Macrometa’s Fingerprinting Service, schedule a chat with a solutions expert.

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