Virginia Couple Receive Nearly 20 Years Combined Prison Sentence for $31.8 Million Counterfeit Coupon Scheme

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The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) connected Oct. 21 released further details about a $31.8 cardinal counterfeit coupon strategy that resulted successful a Virginia mates receiving a combined situation condemnation of astir 20 years.

In September, Lori Ann Talens, 41, was sentenced to 12 years successful prison, portion her husband Pacifico Talens, Jr., 43, was sentenced to 7 years down bars 1 period anterior for perpetrating a counterfeit coupon fraud strategy that outgo retailers and manufacturers implicit $31 cardinal successful losses, marking 1 of the largest coupon fraud schemes ever discovered successful the United States.

According to tribunal documents, betwixt April 2017 and May 2020, Lori Ann Talens operated a analyzable strategy utilizing societal media sites and apps specified arsenic Facebook and Telegram to find groups of coupon enthusiasts and merchantability them counterfeit coupons.

Operating nether the sanction “MasterChef,” she utilized a machine to plan and nutrient a assortment of counterfeit coupons from her location successful Virginia Beach.

The Department of Justice said the counterfeit coupons made by Talens, who has a inheritance successful selling and beardown graphic plan skills, were virtually indistinguishable from authentic coupons, and were often made with inflated values, allowing customers to acquisition retail items astatine a greatly reduced cost.

The FBI said successful a release connected Thursday that the Coupon Information Corporation (CIC) had contacted Inspector Jason Thomasson with the U.S. Postal Service with a tipoff that they believed the Virginia mates were down the counterfeit coupon operation.

Upon investigating and gaining a hunt warrant to their home, FBI officials recovered fake coupons—worth much than $1 million—in “every crevice” of the property.

“There were coupons successful each overgarment pocket; they were stuffed successful her vehicles,” said Thomasson. They besides recovered designs connected Talen’s machine that allowed her to make coupons for much than 13,000 products, which amounted to approximately $31,817,997 cardinal successful losses to retailers and manufacturers.

“She trained herself successful the antithetic techniques she needed to manipulate barcodes to marque these coupons work,” said Special Agent Shannon Brill.

“She had coupons for $24.99 disconnected a $25 container of diapers. And it would work,” said Thomasson. “And you’d person radical walking retired the doorway with those diapers for astir nothing.”

FBI agents noted that due to the fact that store cashiers are not trained to question the authenticity of the coupons that customers provide, the fake coupons would stay undiscovered for “weeks oregon adjacent months.”

Talens not lone utilized the self-made coupons herself but provided them to ample groups of individuals that she communicated with via encrypted apps, the FBI said.

To alteration the level of hazard associated with her fake coupon scheme, Lori Talens would lone let caller members into the radical if they were referred to her by an existing subordinate and provided a transcript of their ID on with grounds that they had used counterfeit coupons before.

Talens accepted outgo done various payment applications arsenic good arsenic by virtual currency. Occasionally, she would speech coupons for stolen rolls of the peculiar insubstantial stores usage to people retired coupons, the FBI said.

Over a three-year period, Lori Talens received astir $400,000 from members of her radical successful payments, the FBI said, adding that she utilized the profits to wage for high-end location renovations, including a caller room and swimming pool, arsenic good arsenic holidays, buying sprees, and eating out.

In a abstracted strategy between November 2015 done February 2020, Lori Talens defrauded Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by applying for benefits for some programs portion failing to disclose that her husband Pacifico had morganatic employment income, or illegitimate income from the counterfeit coupon scheme.

Had she disclosed this income, the Talens would not person been eligible for these benefits. The DOJ said that the total nonaccomplishment to Medicaid and SNAP was astir $43,000.

Both Lori and her hubby pleaded blameworthy to message fraud successful April. Pacifico Talens, Jr., was alert of the counterfeit coupon scheme, profited from it, and assisted his woman by shipping packages of counterfeit coupons and performing different administrative tasks, the DOJ said.

Lori Ann Talens besides pleaded blameworthy to ligament fraud and wellness attraction fraud. She was besides ordered to pay $31.8 cardinal successful restitution to the retailers and manufacturers who suffered losses successful her scheme.

The FBI said that the probe into the Talens is ongoing and that they are presently inactive looking into those who participated successful her radical arsenic good arsenic different individuals who prosecute successful fake coupon schemes.

Katabella Roberts

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Katabella Roberts is simply a newsman presently based successful Turkey. She covers quality and concern for The Epoch Times, focusing chiefly connected the United States.