Lori Ann Talens, 41, of Virginia Beach, convicted of the biggest coupon scam in American history: agents found 13,000 different counterfeit coupons at home
America is a republic founded on coupons, discount coupons to be cut with scissors that in Italy end up in the bin without being read, but on the other side of the Atlantic they are studied, selected and often accumulated in special binders. On this obsession, 41-year-old Lori Ann Talens of Virginia Beach built the largest coupon scam in American history, a $ 31.8 million fraud which earned her a place in the Olympus of counterfeiters alongside the legendary Frank Abagnale Jr., played by Leonardo DiCaprio in the 2002 film Try to catch me, but what it will now cost you 12 years in prison. A scam, Virginia prosecutor Raj Parekh specified, “which has harmed consumers, retailers and producers across the country, but also the entire economy.”
For over three years, between April 2017 and May 2020, Ms. Talens cut out and pasted logos, barcodes, images and texts into thousands of fake coupons, almost indistinguishable from the originals, that provided great discounts or free products on the computer. Then she used them or resold them with the help of her husband Pacifico Talens Jr., already sentenced to 7 years and 3 months in prison for his “administrative role”: the spouses they would have earned $ 400,000 between Paypal and Bitcoin by selling the fake coupons to about 2,000 customers across the country, who contacted on Facebook and Telegram fan groups.
Just one of them, identified in the court documents as “Coupon Enthusiast”, however, discovered the scam and reported the couple to the Coupon Information Center, a non-profit engaged in combating fraud that bought the vouchers, found out that they were fake and warned post office inspectors. And so the empire of MasterChef, the nickname that the Talents used to design and sell coupons, it collapsed. At the time of the search, federal agents found dozens of pieces of evidence, including an Excel sheet where it was over 13 thousand different coupons listed, and counterfeit coupons worth one million dollars: according to the investigation.
“Although Hollywood portrays coupon fraud as if it were a simple breach of the rules, in reality it is a very serious matter”, explained in a statement the director of the Cic, Bud Miller, specifying that these are criminal offenses. “Talens mastered the art of counterfeiting. Hers was a massive scheme, ”wrote assistant prosecutor Joseph Kosky, who is cost $ 9 million to the paper multinational Kimberly-Clark (the producer of Kleenex), 2.8 million to the giant of household products Proctor & Gamble (Dash, Gillette, Pampers), 2.5 million to the food giant Unilever (Algida, Findus, Knorr among others) and 1, 7 million to Henkel (Dixan, Perlana), but what hit a hundred companies. “I am deeply ashamed of how I behaved,” Ms. Talens apologized before the sentence. “I realized that I was a bad example for my three children. I’ll regret it for the rest of my life. ‘
September 21, 2021 (change September 21, 2021 | 16:42)
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