The Great Coupon-Clipping Heist

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Judging by the recent sharp rise in coupon usage, it’s clear that consumers understand coupons can save them money. If you’re willing to partake in less-than-legal activities, coupons can also help you make money—as the case of a Long Island mailman who earned $35K by selling stolen coupons can attest. Talk about “extreme couponing,” right?

As reported in New York Post, a postal worker named Thomas Tang was arrested last week for allegedly stealing major retailers’ coupons intended to be mailed to customers. The coupons—good for $10 off and other discounts at retailers such as J.C. Penney, Kohl’s, and Lowe’s—were then sold for under face value on eBay. The Post reports:

Tang told investigators that he netted roughly $35,000 from the sale of JCPenney coupons between October 2009 and January of this year.

While this has all the makings of a colorfully zany scheme, Tang’s tale actually seems to be a sad story of a guy under pressure making a dumb decision that snowballed. More from the Post:

“I have two small children, and my wife is pregnant,” he told cops, according to court documents. “I also have a mortgage, and I have to pay cash for my children’s baby sitter. I did not want this to happen, but it was the only way I could avoid having my house foreclosed on.”

But speaking of colorfully zany schemes, have you heard about the “free rent” approach? You just stop paying the mortgage, and hope that it takes lenders year to get the paperwork in order to kick you out of the house—allowing you to enjoy “free rent” in the meantime.