Known to be one of the largest coupon fraud schemes costs retailers $31.8 million, and now the FBI has released new information about a Virginia Beach couple’s fraud scheme.
In September, Lori Ann Talens, 41, was sentenced to 12 years in prison, and her husband, Pacifico Talens, Jr., got 7 years behind bars for their roles in the scheme. They were also ordered to pay $31.8 million in restitution to the retailers and manufacturers who suffered losses.
Talens masks herself as a coupon enthusiast on Facebook and invites her victims to chat privately on Telegram, an encrypted and private instant messaging app, where she would sell them counterfeit coupons that could be used to redeem retail items for free or greatly reduced prices, according to court documents.
Talens, who is considered the mastermind of the scheme, would create fake coupons with discounts “near or even over” an item’s retail value.
In the FBI release, according to Special Agent Shannon Brill, “She trained herself in the different techniques she needed to manipulate barcodes to make these coupons work.”
Talens didn’t use the fraudulent coupons for herself. The FBI said she sold them to subscribers that found her on social media and communicated with them using an encrypted messaging app.
The FBI said that Talens was paid more than $400,000 in digital currencies such as bitcoin and sometimes “exchanged coupons for stolen rolls of the special paper stores use to print out coupons.
The Coupon Information Corporation, which received a tip that someone was producing and delivering counterfeit coupons, discovered the three-year conspiracy. False coupons related to Talens cost one group of manufacturers $125,000.
In a statement, Lori Ann Talens said that she was “deeply ashamed and embarrassed” by her actions.
The couple spent the money that they earned through the scheme on high-end home renovations, including a new pool and a kitchen remodel, as well as lavish vacations.