October 29, 2021
VIRGINIA BEACH, Virginia—Lori Ann Talens, 41, and her husband, Pacifico, 43, of Virginia Beach, were involved in a nationwide scam between April 2017 through May 2020 where they created and sold fake coupons, causing losses of around $31,817,997 from retailers and manufacturers, according to the Washington Examiner.
The couple pleaded guilty to counts of fraud—including mail fraud. Lori was sentenced to 12 years in prison and $31.8 million in restitution for being the mastermind and Pacifico received seven years for supporting her.
The Talens came up with a subscription system for people to buy fake coupons from them via Facebook and Telegram. They made about $400,000 from that operation alone.
“The first time the Coupon Information Corporation (CIC) called Postal Inspector Jason Thomasson with a tip about a Virginia Beach resident who they believed was making and mailing counterfeit coupons, the center didn’t yet have a sense of the fraud’s scale. Without a loss amount, Thomasson didn’t think he could gather support for an investigation,” the FBI said in a statement.
However, months later, the CIC provided more proof with losses of up to $125,000 from fake coupons from an initial investigation. The FBI was soon notified and Special Agent Shannon Bill soon joined the investigation, reports the Washington Examiner.
When the FBI raided Lori Talens’ home, agents found thousands of counterfeit coupons, rolls of coupon paper, and coupon designs for more than 13,000 products on her computer. Investigators found about $1 million worth of fraudulent coupons hidden in every part of the house from jacket pockets to inside a Nissan GTR in the garage.
“She trained herself in the different techniques she needed to manipulate barcodes to make these coupons work,” stated Agent Brill. Explaining the Talens would “have coupons for $24.99 off a $25 box of diapers.”
The couple had a background in marketing and computer design and was able to create any type of coupon for almost any grocery, or drug store product and make it for whatever value they wanted.
Feature Images via Washington Examiner & FBI