VIRGINIA BEACH (WAVY) — A Virginia Beach couple could face decades in prison after operating a multi-million dollar fraud scheme involving counterfeit coupons.
A release from the Department of Justice says that Lori Ann Talens, 41, and her husband Pacifico Talens, 43, pleaded guilty on multiple charges this week in court.
Prosecutors say the scheme happened from about April 2017 to May 2020, with Lori Ann Talens orchestrating the complex scheme through social media sites and apps, selling the counterfeit coupons to coupon enthusiasts under the moniker “MasterChef.”
Lori Ann Talens created more than 13,000 separate and distinct counterfeit coupons, prosecutors say, which caused more than $30 million in losses for retailers and manufacturers.
“These defendants orchestrated a nationwide scheme to make and sell counterfeit coupons, which defrauded businesses out of more than $31 million,” said Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “Counterfeiting coupons harms the entire retail industry and causes financial loss to consumers, businesses, and the economy. As this case demonstrates, those who use illegal get-rich-quick schemes to deceive others will be brought to justice.”
Prosecutors say Pacifico Talens was aware of the operation and even assisted in administrative tasks for his wife. Federal agents seized nearly $1 million worth of counterfeit coupons from their home during the execution of a search warrant.
Lori Ann Talens also defrauded Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), prosecutors says, applying for benefits and failing to disclose the couple’s legitimate income. The total loss to Medicaid and SNAP was approximately $43,000.
Both pleaded guilty to mail fraud, and Lori Ann Talens also pleaded guilty to wire fraud and health care fraud. She could face up to 50 years in prison when she’s sentenced on August 31, and Pacifico Talens could get up to 20 years in prison. His sentencing is scheduled for August 19.