balsiger-16aLater this month, a jury is scheduled to begin hearing testimony in the International Outsourcing Services (IOS) coupon fraud case in Milwaukee. The company and various company executives, including CEO Thomas Balsiger, were indicted in March of 2007. Balsiger, like Bob Jones, was a darling with the city’s elite and politicos alike for many years. Balsiger and his company are accused of stealing $250 million by fraudulently processing manufacturers coupons. Much of the details of the coupon fraud case have been obscured by the numerous public corruption cases that were being adjudicated during the same time that this case came to light. The length of time it has taken to bring the case to a jury has also made it difficult to keep up with the case as it meanders through the judiciary.

I had not planned on writing about this case until after the court case had been adjudicated. However, I recently encountered an issue with a Kashi bar. My spouse received an incomplete Kashi bar and I posted a picture of it on my Twitter account. As a result, Kashi reached out to me and asked me for the details about my experience. They informed me that they would inform their quality control department about my experiences. My spouse is a coupon queen. There is no one I know that can organize multiple coupons just right so that they result in significant savings to our bottom line.

I, on the other hand, am too lazy to bother with coupons. Therefore, I assumed coupons remain a piece of paper that someone must process in order for the money derived from them is distributed to the appropriate companies. However, as a result of my Kashi comments, I received a coupon from Kashi in the mail. Something in the back of the coupon caught my attention.

It is a strip of hologram with obvious security features built in. Obviously, Kashi does not want someone duplicating their coupons. This caused me to look at other coupons, and sure enough, many manufacturers are using counterfeit detection devices on their coupons. My inquisitive mind wondered if it was cost effective for the manufacturers. After all, holograms, even mass produced are not cheap.

The International Outsourcing Services indictment alleges that Balsiger stole $250 million over ten years.

Of the company executives indicted in the International Outsourcing Services saga, all but two have pleaded guilty to the fraud. Thomas Balsiger and James Currey will go to court later this month, almost nine years after being indicted. Balsiger and Currey have maintained their innocence.

However, a 2005 memorandum from Balsiger, allegedly proves that he admitted that the coupons his company was processing were being diverted through Juárez to be processed in cement mixers to make them look like they had been used. Balsiger has told the court that he intends to represent himself.

Balisger had originally retained Joseph “Sib” Abraham. Abraham died in July of 2015. According to Balisger, he had paid Abraham over $1 million to represent him. However, after the death of Abraham, the money, along with other of his clients’ money, could not accounted for.

The other defendant in the case is James Currey, who is a principal in Currey Adkins, a technology outsourcing company in El Paso.

As usual there are some nexuses between the IOS corruption case and other El Paso scandals. When the case is finally adjudicated I will start to connect some dots for you. In the meantime, I wanted to both share with you the counterfeiting techniques and get an answer to whether it was cost effective to the companies.

Several company officials in the IOS case have already pleaded guilty for their part in the $250 million massive coupon fraud case. It then makes sense that the manufactures would add counterfeit detection devices to their coupons even though they may cost more to print.

Martin Paredes

Martín Paredes is a Mexican immigrant who built his business on the U.S.-Mexican border. As an immigrant, Martín brings the perspective of someone who sees México as a native through the experience...

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