A Virginia Beach woman behind a massive fake coupon scheme that cost retailers $31 million has been sentenced to 12 years behind bars. Lori Ann Villanueva Talens and her husband Pacifico Talens Jr. both pleaded guilty to fraud charges after the scheme was discovered. He was sentenced to seven years and three months for his role in the illegal enterprise.
“Protecting American consumers and businesses from individuals who seek to take advantage of the U.S. Mail by distributing counterfeit, illegal, and improper items remains a priority to Postal Inspectors,” said Inspector in Charge Daniel A. Adame, Washington Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. “We will continue to pursue these individuals to bring them to justice. We are committed to safeguarding the public’s trust in our nation’s mail system.”
Authorities said that the Talens started making the fake coupons in 2017 and earned over $400,000 before the operation was shut down in 2020. Lori Ann made the coupons on her home computer, and they were printed on high-quality glossy paper and even included working barcodes. They were so realistic that they fooled coupon expects federal prosecutors said.
The couple was busted after somebody reported their scheme to the Coupon Information Center. The group contacted the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, which then launched an investigation.
Prosecutors said that the fake coupons were used at over 100 retailers and that one business lost $8 million.
Talens apologized to the court before she was sentenced.
“I realize I have served as a terrible moral example on how to act responsibly for my three children,” she wrote in a letter to the court. “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.”
Lori Ann will begin serving her sentence on October 13.