NORFOLK, Virginia – Lori Ann Talens, the leader of the “MasterChef” counterfeit coupon conspiracy, was sentenced today to 12 years incarceration, three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay more than $31 million in restitution. This lengthy sentence will be served concurrently with her sentences for other federal offenses, including Medicaid and SNAP fraud. The restitution will be paid jointly with her husband, Pacifico Talens, who was recently sentenced to more than seven years’ incarceration, and three years of supervised release.
“Despite Hollywood’s recent portrayal of coupon fraud as a comedy or simply ‘bending the rules,’ it is a serious matter,” said CIC Executive Director Bud Miller. “As today’s sentencing of Ms. Talens proves, coupon counterfeiting is generally a felony level offense, the penalties of which may include years in prison, total loss of assets, life-long restitution orders, and reduced job opportunities. The perpetrator’s families often suffer as well.”
The members of the CIC greatly appreciate the efforts of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office as well as cooperating industry participants on this case. Coupon fraud hurts everyone, especially honest couponers. Consumers can report counterfeiters to the CIC at our website, www.couponinformationcenter.com.
“Consumers can easily protect themselves by simply never paying money for coupons. Coupons that are offered for sale are often counterfeits or stolen,” added Miller. “Coupon purchasers should be aware that they are providing their personal information to individuals or organizations that are likely criminal enterprises and may open themselves to other criminal schemes.”
CIC’s App, The CIC® Suspect Coupon Checker, is available free-of-charge to retailers, law enforcement and CIC members. Counterfeit coupons known to the CIC can be identified in a few seconds. Suspect coupons can also be reported for review.
Miller concluded, “It would be wise for coupon counterfeiters to immediately cease their illegal activities. Additional counterfeit coupon cases are already being pursued from information obtained from this case.”
The Coupon Information Corporation (CIC®) is a not-for-profit association of consumer product manufacturers dedicated to fighting coupon misredemption and fraud.