Virginia Beach Couple Sentenced for $31 Million Coupon Fraud Scheme

/
Bribery and corruption concept in business and politics with caucasian businessman and cash money in white envelope

NORFOLK, Va. – A Virginia Beach woman was sentenced today to 12 years in prison, following last month’s sentencing of her husband to over 7 years in prison, for perpetrating a counterfeit coupon fraud scheme that cost retailers and manufacturers over $31 million in losses.

“These two defendants have been sentenced and held accountable for operating one of the largest coupon fraud schemes ever discovered in the United States, resulting in over $31 million in losses to victims across the country,” said Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “This massive counterfeit coupon scheme harmed consumers, retailers, and manufacturers nationwide, and the economy at large. The sentences imposed in this case illustrate the serious consequences that criminals can face in EDVA for carrying out these sham get-rich-quick schemes.”

“Protecting American consumers and businesses from individuals who seek to take advantage of the U.S. Mail by distributing counterfeit, illegal, and improper items remains a priority to Postal Inspectors,” said Inspector in Charge Daniel A. Adame, Washington Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. “We will continue to pursue these individuals to bring them to justice. We are committed to safeguarding the public’s trust in our nation’s mail system.”

“Coupon fraud is not a harmless crime. Lori Ann Talens and her husband operated an audacious fraud scheme that stole more than $31 million directly from retailers and manufacturers,” said Brian Dugan, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Norfolk Field Office. “The FBI investigates these matters aggressively because this kind of fraud ripples through the economy, and unfortunately it is the innocent consumer that ultimately pays the price.”

Breaking News:  Former Member of Baltimore’s Safe Streets Program Sentenced to Over 11 Years in Federal Prison for Drug Distribution Conspiracy

According to court documents, from approximately April 2017 through May 2020, Lori Ann Talens, 41, operated a complex scheme using social media sites and apps such as Facebook and Telegram to find groups of coupon enthusiasts and sell them counterfeit coupons. Lori Ann Talens, who operated online under the moniker “MasterChef,” used a computer to design, create, and produce a wide variety of counterfeit coupons in her Virginia Beach home. These counterfeit coupons were virtually indistinguishable from authentic coupons and were often created with inflated values, far in excess of what an authentic coupon would offer, in order to receive items from retail for free or for a greatly reduced price.

As part of the scheme, Lori Ann Talens would ship the counterfeit coupons throughout the United States using the U.S. Postal Service and other commercial parcel delivery services. She accepted payment for the counterfeit coupons through a variety of online payment methods, including Bitcoin and Paypal. Lori Ann’s husband, Pacifico Talens, 43, was aware of the counterfeit coupon scheme, profited from it, and assisted in the operation by shipping packages of counterfeit coupons and performing other administrative tasks at the direction of his wife.

Breaking News:  Orangeburg Co. man gets 12 years for sex crimes against minor

The scheme was discovered when one of the Talens’s customers reported them to the Coupon Information Center (CIC), a coalition of consumer product manufacturers dedicated to coupon integrity. The CIC purchased coupons from the Talens, confirmed they were counterfeit, and contacted the U.S. Postal Inspection Service for further investigation.

After identifying the defendants as the source of the counterfeit coupons, federal law enforcement executed a search warrant on their residence. During the search, agents seized nearly $1 million worth of counterfeit coupons from the residence. Furthermore, a review of the Talens’s computer revealed images for over 13,000 separate and distinct counterfeit coupon designs. The CIC reviewed these images and compared them to the known counterfeit coupons in circulation. The analysis concluded that coupon redemptions using the 13,000 counterfeit designs on the couple’s computer had caused approximately $31,817,997 million in losses to retailers and manufacturers.

In a separate scheme, from approximately November 2015 through February 2020, Lori Ann Talens defrauded Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Lori Ann Talens applied for benefits for each of these programs and failed to disclose either her husband Pacifico’s legitimate employment income, or their own illegitimate counterfeit coupon income. Had she disclosed this income, the Talens would not have been eligible for these benefits. The total loss to Medicaid and SNAP was approximately $43,000.

Both defendants pleaded guilty to mail fraud in April. Lori Ann Talens also pleaded guilty to wire fraud and health care fraud. Pacifico Talens was sentenced to 87 months in prison on August 19.

Breaking News:  Hampton Falls Woman Pleads Guilty to Theft of Government Funds

Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Daniel A. Adame, Inspector in Charge of the Washington Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; and Brian Dugan, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Norfolk Field Office, made the announcement after U.S. District Judge Roderick C. Young accepted the plea.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Kosky is prosecuting the case.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 2:21-cr-39.

NICS Inquiries/Firearms Records Checks

   Send to USAVAE.NICS@usdoj.gov

Protect yourself from fraud, and report suspected cases of financial fraud to local law enforcement.


 

Victim Witness Case

Updates

 

U.S. V. KRISTOPHER LEE DALLMANN ET AL

 

U.S. V. JAVAID PERWAIZ

 

U.S. V. ALEKSEI BURKOV

 

U.S. V. CHOKSI

 

Eastern District of Virginia Seal

Megaupload – Release For Victim Notification


 

Learn More

Don't Lose Yourself in a Gang

Talk to your kids about gangs and how to avoid them.


 

Learn More

Project Safe Childhood

Help us combat the proliferation of sexual exploitation crimes against children.


 

Learn More