Between April 2017 and May 2020, Lori Ann Talens ran a sophisticated coupon scam that led to hundreds of thousands for her and millions in losses for several companies. However, it all changed with one customer complaint, leading to the federal authorities descending on her place and taking her and her husband into custody. ABC’s ‘The Con: The Coupon Con’ delves into this very case. So, if you’re wondering precisely how Lori carried her counterfeit coupon scam and what happened to her since her arrest, we’ve got you covered.
How Much Money Did Coupon Lady Scam?
At the time of the incident, Lori was a mother of three and was married to Pacifico Talens Jr. The complex scheme involved her using Facebook or Telegram to find coupon enthusiasts. Lori then used high-quality paper to print out coupons complete with corporate logos and product images. The coupons looked very realistic and even had working barcodes that gave them the appearance of legitimacy at various stores.
These coupons often had deals with values equal to or greater than the item’s value, meaning that anyone who used it would get the product for free or, in some cases, the store would pay them in return for buying it. Through Lori’s Facebook group, she had others help her with the scheme; they would use Telegram to communicate. Lori had a group of subscribers that would pay for these coupons, and she would ship them throughout the country.
Lori accepted payment online in various ways, including Bitcoin and PayPal. Pacifico knew about the counterfeit scheme and helped his wife by shipping the packages and doing other administrative duties. But Lori was considered the mastermind behind the plan. Using the moniker “MasterChef,” she designed these coupons on her computer; it took a counterfeit coupon expert to confirm they were fake.
Eventually, a customer reported Lori to the Coupon Information Center who then bought coupons from her to confirm they were phony. Once that was done, the CIC contacted the U.S. Postal Inspection Service to have Lori investigated. During a search of her house, the police found nearly $1 million worth of fake coupons. Furthermore, Lori’s computer had images of over 13,000 different coupon designs.
The investigation revealed that Lori made around $400,000 from selling these subscriptions while multiple companies lost just over $31.8 million. Not just that, in a separate scam, Lori defrauded Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Between November 2015 and February 2020, she applied for benefits without disclosing her husband’s income and, obviously, her illegal coupon income. The loss in this scam amounted to around $43,000.
Where is Lori Ann Talens Today?
The authorities learned that Lori spent the profits on renovations at home, including getting a new kitchen, a sunroom, and a pool. Not just that, Lori and her family used these fake coupons during their vacations and shopping trips. In April 2021, Lori, then 41, pled guilty to mail, wire, and health fraud for the two schemes she ran. Pacifico pleaded guilty to mail fraud. A few months later, she was sentenced to serve 12 years in federal prison. Before that, her husband received a sentence of over seven years.
Lori was apologetic in a letter to the court, saying, “I realize I have served as a terrible moral example on how to act responsibly for my three children. Somehow I completely breached the deep-seated morality my parents instilled in me as a child. They taught me to know the difference between right and wrong, but I was blinded by my own greed. I am completely responsible for my actions and know I have a serious debt to pay to society.” Federal prison records indicate that she remains incarcerated at the Federal Prison Camp in Alderson, West Virginia. Lori will be eligible for release in 2032.
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