'Criminal couponer' scammed stores of $31.8 MILLION in fake coupons, funded her ...

'Criminal couponer' scammed stores of $31.8 MILLION in fake coupons, funded her ...
'Criminal couponer' scammed stores of $31.8 MILLION in fake coupons, funded her ...

A Virginia woman who was convicted of selling nearly $32 million in counterfeit coupons and using her ill-gotten gains to pay for home renovations and luxury vacations was sentenced to 12 years in prison 

Lori Ann Villanueva Talens, 41, shipped tens of thousands of coupons she designed and printed at home to a network of more than 2,000 customers she amassed on social media sites like Facebook and Telegram using the name 'MasterChef.'

Fake coupons with a collective value of $1 million were found in 'every crevice' of the Virginia Beach home she shared with her husband, Pacifico Talens Jr., when a warrant was executed for their arrest.

'There were coupons in every jacket pocket; they were stuffed in her vehicles,' according to Postal Inspector Jason Thomasson.

About 100 companies, including Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola and Ziploc, were victimized by the 'counterfeit coupon empire' - paper products company Kimberly-Clark was the hardest hit, with nearly $9 million lost to the scheme. 

The FBI also found designs to create coupons for more than 13,000 different products on Talens’ computer. 

After reviewing the designs of the 'Frankenstein' coupons - which combined elements of legitimate ones - and comparing them with counterfeit coupons in circulation, they determined she was responsible for $31,817,997 in losses.

Lori Ann Talens, 41 (pictured) said in a 2014 interview with The Virginian-Pilot that her father told her: 'Lori Ann, don't be the girl who goes for the guy with the hooked-up nice car and the power suits. You be the woman with a nice car, and you be a power suit, because the only person you can depend on is yourself.' She was sentenced to 12 years in prison last month for printing and distributing $32 million in counterfeit coupons

Lori Ann Talens, 41 (pictured) said in a 2014 interview with The Virginian-Pilot that her father told her: 'Lori Ann, don't be the girl who goes for the guy with the hooked-up nice car and the power suits. You be the woman with a nice car, and you be a power suit, because the only person you can depend on is yourself.' She was sentenced to 12 years in prison last month for printing and distributing $32 million in counterfeit coupons

Prosecutors said that she 'perfected the art' of counterfeiting coupons, and was able to 'create [coupons] virtually indistinguishable from genuine [ones].'

The majority of her forgeries offered deals equal to - or even greater than - the value of the merchandise. In cases where the discount exceeded the item's price, retailers had to pay customers from their registers for 'purchasing' them. 

'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. 

However, Talens' attorney Lawrence Woodward Jr. argued that his client should get a lighter sentence because she gave authorities information about the 'rather murky world of counterfeit couponing' in interviews and identified other counterfeiters.  

Lori Ann Villanueva Talens, 41 (pictured), distributed tens of thousands of coupons she designed and printed at home to a network she amassed on social media sites like Facebook and Telegram using the name 'MasterChef,' the FBI reported last Thursday

Lori Ann Villanueva Talens, 41 (pictured), distributed tens of thousands of coupons she designed and printed at home to a network she amassed on social media sites like Facebook and Telegram using the name 'MasterChef,' the FBI reported last Thursday

Fake coupons with a collective value of $1 million were found in 'every crevice' of her home when a warrant was executed - 'there were coupons in every jacket pocket; they were stuffed in her vehicles,' according to Postal Inspector Jason Thomasson

Fake coupons with a collective value of $1 million were found in 'every crevice' of her home when a warrant was executed - 'there were coupons in every jacket pocket; they were stuffed in her vehicles,' according to Postal Inspector Jason Thomasson

With a background in marketing and strong computer design skills, the FBI said, she was 'able to create a coupon for almost any grocery or drugstore product, and able to make it for whatever value off she wanted.' 

'She had coupons for $24.99 off a $25 box of diapers. And it would work,' said Thomasson. 'And you’d have people walking out the door with those diapers for almost nothing.' 

With the savings from her coupons and the proceeds from their sale, Talens paid for vacations, shopping trips and dinners out for herself and her family.

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