To the people who think that coupons cannot be used to commit a crime and make loads of money, ‘Queenpins’ offers a point of view that will completely change the way they think about the subject. Starring Kristen Bell and Kirby Howell-Baptiste, the film follows Connie and Jojo, who discover that coupons can be used to make money with little to no investment. Yes, it’s illegal, but it’s not a bad thing, they convince themselves. It is a Robin Hood-ish thing, and no one ever cares about coupons, so there is no chance they will be caught. They are proven wrong by the end, but their actions make one wonder if someone could really make so much money out of coupons. Who is Jojo Johnson’s real-life counterpart, and where are they now?
Jojo Johnson Has No Resemblance to Any of the Queenpins
‘Queenpins’ is inspired by the crime committed by three women— Robin Ramirez, Marilyn Johnson, and Amiko Fountain. While the film uses crime as the central plot device, the characters in the film are entirely fictional and bear little to no resemblance to their real-life counterparts. Kirby Howell-Baptiste’s character, Jojo Johnson, is entirely fictional and written in service to the plot of the movie.
In the movie, Connie comes up with the idea, but she and Jojo build their empire of coupons together, sharing 50/50 on everything. In real life, Robin Ramirez is believed to have started selling counterfeit coupons as early as 2007, and Marilyn Johnson and Amiko Fountain were roped into her business a bit later. If one compares Connie to Ramirez, then one could say that Jojo is a mix of Johnson and Fountain, but that would be inaccurate because Jojo is an entirely different person with a completely different background and intentions.
In real life, Ramirez is said to have handled most of the operation, especially the task of bringing the coupons from overseas to be sold at about half-price in the States. Reportedly, Fountain was put in charge of storage and distribution. In the movie, the women rely on the steady supply of coupons from their accomplices in Mexico, but in real life, the trio also sold counterfeit coupons, the making of which is believed to have fallen on Fountain. She is also said to have helped in making the coupons look real by using hologram stickers on some of them.
Meanwhile, Johnson claimed that she was only involved in sorting and packing coupons. Apart from the savvyshoppersite.com, on which the coupons were sold, Johnson also had her own website, called amenglishmastiffs.com, to sell more coupons from her end. Both women claim that they were completely unaware of the illegal nature of the operation. They also claimed not to have received any significant share from the profits, most of which they say was kept by Ramirez for herself. And it was quite a profit, with the cops seizing about $40 million worth of assets in the raids when they finally caught up with the trio.
Where are Amiko Fountain and Marilyn Johnson Today?
Amiko Fountain and Marilyn Johnson are believed to still be in Arizona. Johnson is believed to be in south Phoenix, while Fountain is believed to be living in Peoria, Arizona. Following their arrest in 2012, they pleaded guilty to the charge of counterfeiting with the forgery and fraud charges dropped, leaving them with just three years in probation and no prison time. They were also ordered to pay $1,288,682 to Procter & Gamble as restitution for the losses faced by the company due to their actions.
Johnson, who is a retired special education teacher, used to run a small dog breeding business with her husband, Arthur, when she came across Ramirez’s coupon scheme while looking for dog food coupons. According to her husband, she had never had any altercation with the law before, and it was unbelievable to him and the people who knew her that she could be involved in something like this. He also claimed that his wife’s involvement in the scheme was limited to only four months before everything blew up in their face and that all she received for the meager task of packing the coupons were free coupons in return. The Johnsons also claimed that they thought Ramirez’s source was a legitimate non-profit organization, so they never questioned anything.
Amiko Fountain was a chiropractor and is described as an honest person by everyone around her. It is claimed that she, too, was oblivious to the true nature of Ramirez’s schemes and never shared in any of her profits. Reportedly, Fountain was in a financial bind and had borrowed money as well. Whether or not she really got a cut of the profits, she still has to pay the restitution money, which must be a heavy financial burden to bear.
Moreover, neither of the women would receive any profit from ‘Queenpins’ or any other story that is based on or inspired by the crime they were involved in. Even if they tried to tell their side of the story, they wouldn’t be able to profit from it because the Arizona law doesn’t allow that. Both Johnson and Fountain have chosen to stay away from the spotlight and to enjoy their lives privately.