Coupon Fraud

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- The nation's largest coupon handler says it will fight charges that the firm and several of its executives schemed to defraud stores and manufacturers of at least 250 million dollars over ten years.

Those charges are in a 25-count indictment unsealed in U-S District Court in Milwaukee. It says International Outsourcing Services, with offices in Bloomington, Indiana, and El Paso, Texas, defrauded manufacturers in Wisconsin and across the country.

It's accused of submitting coupons for reimbursement that were never used by consumers, but instead were cut up by so-called coupon "chop crews."

The U-S Attorney's Office in Milwaukee is prosecuting because the complaint that kicked off the case came from the area.

I-O-S says there has long been an industry dispute regarding coupon processing between certain manufacturer' agents and retailers, especially independent grocers. The firm says it has stood with those small grocers and will vigorously defend against the charges.