Bogus coupons for a free beverage exclusively for African-American customers are circulating on social media.
The ads claim to offer free drinks for “people of color” or those of “African American heritage.”
The counterfeit coupons appeared a day after Starbucks announced it would close more than 8,000 locations on May 29 for a day of “racial-bias education geared toward preventing discrimination in our stores” after an incident that ended with two black men being arrested at a Philadelphia location last week.
“We’re sorry,” the faux voucher reads. “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.”
Starbucks denies the authenticity of the ads.
“This is completely false and in no way associated with Starbucks,” a rep for the coffee chain told Business Insider.
The instructions on one of the fake coupons prompt baristas to punch in code “1488,” a combination of two numbers with ties to white supremacy. The scam voucher also includes a QR code that redirects to a website that displays the n-word when scanned.
Gab, a popular alt-right site, was among the Twitter accounts promoting the “coupon,” but the controversial website 4chan appears to be the source. The site, infamous for pushing pro-Trump fake news articles during the 2016 election, published the flier on its Politically Incorrect message board.
It’s not the first time 4chan has gone after Starbucks. It also made fake coupons for “Starbucks DREAMer Day” last year, which promised discounts for undocumented immigrants.
The arrests at a Philly Starbucks last Thursday occurred after employees called the police on two men because they asked to use the restroom without making a purchase and refused to leave. Video of the arrest went viral, prompting the company’s CEO to issue an apology.
“It was completely inappropriate to engage the police,” Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson told ABC News.
“I’ll say the circumstances surrounding the incident and the outcome at our store on Thursday were reprehensible," he told "GMA." "They were wrong, and for that, I personally apologize to the gentlemen that visited our store.”