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Trolls Create Fake Starbucks Coupon Exclusively Targeting Black People 

Fake Starbucks Coupon

Several versions of the phony Starbucks coupon have been seen floating on social media. (Photo by Zhang Peng/LightRocket via Getty Images)

As if Starbucks wasn’t receiving enough bad publicity already, officials say there’s now a fake coupon floating around purporting to offer free coffee to Black folks.

According to USA TODAY, the bogus voucher is suspected to be the brainchild of a white nationalist group that features a unique QR code that, when scanned, reveals the N-word. The certificate first surfaced Wednesday amid legitimate calls for a boycott of the popular coffee chain after two Black men were arrested at a downtown Philadelphia store without cause. Many were quick to point out the racist double standard in how Black patrons are treated compared to white ones.

“This is completely false and in no way associated with Starbucks,” company spokeswoman Jaime Riley said of the coupons. “They cannot be redeemed in our stores.”

Several versions of the phony voucher have been circulating on social media. The “Let’s Talk” coupon reads,”…We’re sorry. We know we can do better. Starbucks values all people of color and we are working on employee sensitivity training. The best dialogue starts over a cup of coffee and we’d like to buy you one.”

It goes on to offer a complimentary beverage of any size and variety until May 18. Another version of the coupon claims it’s “Limited to persons of African American heritage and/or identity at time of exchange.”

The coupon’s phony apology and reference to having a much-needed discussion on racism echoes authentic actions taken by the coffee company, which is likely why it has duped so many people. Last week, CEO Kevin Johnson issued an apology the two men involved and announced that Starbucks would close over 8,000 stores next month to conduct racial bias training for its employees.

The fake coffee voucher is the latest “prank” in an ongoing meme warfare campaign meant to spread hate and extremist messages from the fringes into the mainstream. NBC News reported the coupon’s origins can be traced to far-right online forum “4chan” where it was dubbed “Operation Mermaid.”

” … Here’s a fake Starbucks coupon for marginalized folks,” said the author of the April 17 post, who suggested it would be “fun” if people tried to redeem it at the coffee chain. “You know what to do.”

Inspiration for the hoax may have come from a video posted by Black comedian-provocateur Bryan Sharpe, who filmed himself walking into a Starbucks store and demanding a free coffee as “reparations.”

Even after media outlets confirmed the coupons were fake, phony statements from Starbucks about the hoax began popping up.

Starbucks would later confirm in a statement that the “other” statement was too a hoax.

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