A couple is pleading guilty to running a nationwide counterfeit coupon fraud scheme that cost retailers and manufacturers nearly $32 million. This is according to federal prosecutors.
Couple Seems to Have a Strong Track Record of Additional Fraud Schemes
The Virginia Beach native Lori Ann Talens, 41, recently pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to mail and wire fraud for the scheme. Additionally, she also pleaded guilty to health fraud for a separate scheme in which she defrauded Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Her husband, Pacifico Talens, 43, has pleaded guilty to mail fraud.
The Couple Face Stiff Sentences in Prison
In August, both will be sentenced with Lori Ann Talens getting up to 50 years in prison. Moreover, her husband could face up to 20 years in person.
Operating the coupon scheme from April 2017 through May 2020, Lori Ann Talens used social media sites and apps such as Facebook and Telegram to find coupon enthusiasts to sell to, the release said.
Lori Ann Talens Used a Moniker to Create Coupons
Under the moniker of “MasterChef, she operated under, she used her home computer to design, create, and produce thousands of coupons. The coupons were virtually unrecognizable from authentic versions, the release said. They carried values far in excess of what real ones would therefore offer.
The counterfeit coupons were shipping by Talens throughout the country. She accepted payment through an assortment of online payment methods. Those included Bitcoin and Paypal. Helping with shipment and performing other administrative tasks was the job of her husband.
The scheme was discovered, in fact, when a customer reporting them to the Coupon Information Center. A coalition of consumer product manufacturers is dedicating to coupon integrity. However, the CIC then purchased coupons from the couple. Then confirmed they were counterfeit. As a result that, they contacted the U.S. Postal Inspection Service for further investigation.
$1 Million Dollars Worth of Fake Coupons Seized
It was when a search of the couple’s home, the agents have, in fact, seized nearly $1 million worth of fake coupons. There was a review of their computer. More than 13,000 counterfeit coupon designs were founding. There was an analysis that showed the fake coupons caused nearly $32 million in losses to retailers and manufacturers.