The FBI has released new details about a $31.8 million counterfeit coupon scheme. The Virginia Beach couple involved was sentenced to a combined nearly 20 years in prison.
A Case of Fake Couponing
In a press release, federal investigators with the FBI said they found fake coupons in virtually “every crevice” of Lori Ann Talens and her husband, Pacifico Talens, Jr.’s home when they executed a search warrant. These coupons “savings” were worth more than $1 million. Law enforcement also found coupon designs for more than 13,000 products on Lori Ann Talens’ computer.
She is considered the mastermind of the scheme and allegedly created fake coupons with discounts that were “near or even over” an item’s retail value.
“She trained herself in the different techniques she needed to manipulate barcodes to make these coupons work.”
– Special Agent Shannon Brill
Sold on Social Media
Talens didn’t use the fraudulent coupons for herself.
The FBI ascertained that the coupons were sold to subscribers that found Talens on social media and communicated with buyers using an encrypted messaging app. Talens was paid more than $400,000 in digital currencies like bitcoin. Payment sometimes was in the form of exchange, coupons for “stolen rolls of the special paper stores use to print out coupons,” per the FBI.
The three-year scheme was discovered by the Coupon Information Corporation when they received a tip that someone was making and mailing fraudulent coupons. One manufacturers’ group said it lost $125,000 from fake coupons linked to the case.
Counterfeit Couponers Sentenced
In September, for her role in “perpetrating a counterfeit coupon fraud scheme”, Talens was sentenced to 12 years in prison. The losses amounted to $32 million for retailers and manufacturers, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ). Her husband was sentenced to 7 years in prison as a co-conspirator as he was aware of and profited from the scheme.
The Talens were accused of using the money from the couponing scheme for high-end home renovations, including a new pool and remodeling their kitchen. Talens said in a statement obtained by the New York Times that she was “deeply ashamed and embarrassed” by her actions.
Experienced Counsel for Counterfeiting
Whether for coupons or other currency and goods, our top-rated federal defense attorney can help mitigate your risk should you be under investigation or will need to take your case to trial. Our mission as your lawyers is to give you guidance every step of your unique case. Call 813-280-1244 to speak with our Tampa, FL-based law firm. Attorneys Ben Stechschulte and Amy Nell are available 24/7 to assist you.