NORFOLK, Virginia – Lori Ann Talens and Pacifico Talens pled guilty to felony charges in a counterfeit coupon scam that stole more than $31 million from consumer product manufacturers and retailers. The pair used the name “Master Chef” and other designations on multiple social media platforms to conspire with others to create and distribute counterfeit coupons nationwide.
The US Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) obtained counterfeit coupons, mailing materials, client lists, financial records, and computers as part of their investigation.
“We greatly appreciate the efforts of the US Postal Inspection Service, the FBI and the US Attorney’s Office as well as cooperating industry participants on this case and we look forward to justice being served,” said CIC’s Executive Director, Bud Miller, CPP. “Coupon fraud hurts everyone, especially honest couponers. Consumers can report counterfeiters to the CIC at our website, www.cicweb.analitk.com”
Miller added, “Consumers should never pay money for coupons. Coupon sales often involve counterfeit or stolen materials. 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. They may be criminally and financially liable for their counterfeit coupon activities.”
CIC is currently rolling out a new free App, The CIC® Suspect Coupon Checker, to retailers, law enforcement and CIC members to identify known counterfeits. Retailers can now identify known counterfeit coupons in a few seconds with the App. Suspect coupons can be transmitted to the CIC for analysis and review.
Miller concluded, “It would be wise for coupon counterfeiters to immediately cease their illegal activities. The temporary profits are not worth putting their homes, freedom, and families at risk. Individuals using counterfeit coupons are subject to arrest and prosecution. The penalties can be life-changing; long prison terms, probation, restitution, and other financial penalties are not unusual. As is to be expected, additional counterfeit coupon cases are already being pursued”
The Coupon Information Corporation (CIC®) is a not-for-profit association of consumer product manufacturers dedicated to fighting coupon misredemption and fraud.