Aron Gaudet and Gita Pullapilly co-directed ‘Queenpins,’ a film that delves into the true story of three women orchestrating a counterfeit coupon scam worth $40 million. The scam managed to elude authorities for four years before being dismantled in 2012. While the film is rooted in the Arizona setting of the actual events, it takes a comedic angle on the criminal operation. Some details of the story have been modified for cinematic effect, such as the method of acquiring the coupons and a reduction in the number of women involved, and the film also alters their backstories.
Paul Walter Hauser breathes life into the character of Ken Miller, the tenacious loss prevention officer at an Arizona food mart. With a comedic flair, Miller strives to align himself with the investigative forces, vying for control to dismantle the sprawling counterfeit coupon scam. The question lingers: Is Ken Miller a reflection of a real-life figure, or is he a product of creative embellishment?
Ken Miller is Inspired by Bud Miller
Ken Miller’s character in ‘Queenpins’ appears to draw loose inspiration from Bud Miller, the real-life Executive Director of the Coupon Information Corporation (CIC). The Coupon Information Corporation (CIC) is a non-profit that plays an important role in combating coupon fraud, working closely with law enforcement agencies to investigate and address counterfeit coupon schemes. As the Executive Director of CIC, Bud Miller actively collaborated with the FBI, contributing to the exposure and eventual bust of the elaborate counterfeit coupon operation led by Robin Ramirez, Marilyn Johnson, and Amiko “Amy” Fountain in 2012.
Bud Miller, a Certified Protection Professional (CPP) and seasoned industry expert, has been a stalwart at the Coupon Information Corporation (CIC) since 1986. Holding a bachelor’s degree in International Affairs from George Washington University and earning his master’s in International Business/Trade/Commerce from the University of Maryland Global Campus in 1996, Miller brings a wealth of knowledge to his role. In response to complaints from victim companies like Procter & Gamble and Hershey regarding coupon fraud, CIC, under Miller’s leadership, collaborated with private investigators to launch a comprehensive investigation. This two-month-long effort eventually pinpointed the fraudulent activities of the three women operating out of Phoenix, Arizona. With the collaboration of an undercover private investigator and the Phoenix Police Department, the operation was successfully exposed and dismantled.
Miller was present during the arrest of the women when a SWAT team raided their homes. The operation resulted in the seizure of $40 million worth of counterfeit coupons, and the police confiscated assets totaling $2 million, which included four homes, 22 guns, a 40-foot speedboat, and 21 vehicles. Miller clarified that the women were not creating entirely new coupons but rather repurposing and reproducing existing ones. This involved augmenting original coupons to generate counterfeit versions. The film accurately depicts this process, showcasing the sale of these coupons through their real website, SavvyShopperSite.com.
Miller made a press release after their arrest in which he said, “This case clearly demonstrates the dangers of purchasing coupons on the Internet, whether it is from independent websites, e-mail, or from online auctions. Coupon buyers expose themselves to the possibility of becoming involved with counterfeits, stolen property, or other criminal activities. They may also expose themselves to additional risk by providing their names, home addresses, and financial information to organized crime rings.”
Bud Miller is Working at the CIC till Today
Bud Miller continues to serve as the Executive Director of the Coupon Information Corporation, a non-profit organization dedicated to combating coupon fraud. Additionally, he holds the position of CEO at ERS, Inc., a company established in 2000. Based in Naples, Florida, Miller remains committed to his role, contributing to the identification and prevention of various coupon fraud cases. His dedication highlights the significance of such roles in safeguarding businesses and consumers from fraudulent activities that could impact the integrity of coupon systems, ensuring fair practices, and maintaining trust in the market. The vigilance and efforts of individuals like Miller play a crucial role in upholding the reliability of couponing as a legitimate and effective marketing tool.