Virginia Beach couple sentenced for operating $31 million coupon fraud scheme

Posted at 2:00 PM, Sep 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-14 14:09:08-04

NORFOLK, Va. – A Virginia Beach woman was sentenced Tuesday to 12 years in prison after her husband was sentenced to over 7 years in prison last month for operating an online counterfeit coupon scheme.

The scheme cost retailers and manufacturers over $31 million in losses.

Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, Raj Parekh, says the couple operated one of the largest coupon fraud schemes ever discovered in the United States.

According to court documents, between April 2017 and May 2020, Lori allegedly fraudulently designed, created and distributed counterfeit coupons from her Virginia Beach home and sold them over the internet to individual customers and coupon enthusiasts.

Lori Ann Talens 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.

Officials say these counterfeit coupons were often created with inflated values.

Her husband, Pacifico, was sentenced for helping her with shipments and other administrative tasks at her direction.

About $1 million in counterfeit coupons were seized from the defendant's house during the execution of a federal search warrant.

In a separate scheme, from approximately November 2015 through February 2020, court documents say Lori also defrauded Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). When she applied for benefits officials say she failed to disclose either her husband Pacifico’s legitimate employment income, or their own illegitimate counterfeit coupon income. The total loss to Medicaid and SNAP was approximately $43,000.

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