A couple of criminal couponers' GBP22million counterfeit scam ended when a police raid found thousands and thousands of fakes littered around their home. Lori Ann Talens and her husband Pacifico Talens have been sentenced to nearly 20 years in prison for the swindle. Cops swooped at their property in Virginia Beach, US, and found £31.8 million-worth of mocked-up coupons.
According to the FBI, Mrs Talens was able to create a coupon for almost any grocery store product simply by using her home computer. They explained that she could set the money-off price as high as she liked - and got away with it until they were tipped off. The couple were also ordered to pay the money back to the retailers and manufacturers who suffered big losses.The FPI swooped after the three-year scheme was discovered by the Coupon Information Corporation (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
The woman used the coupons to save money herself, but she also sold them to a subscriber base that she created on social media.
The FBI was able to trace about £400,000 in payments from her subscribers over a three-year period.Woman's Facebook scam warning after 'two sisters' left her GBP130 out of pocketGroupon ordered to refund customers after mishandling complaints - see who is affected
The cash was used for major home renovations, holidays and shopping sprees. The FBI released details of how they caught the pair red handed. Their statement read: "The first time the Coupon Information Corporation called Postal Inspector Jason Thomasson with a tip about a Virginia Beach resident who they believed was making and mailing counterfeit coupons, the centre didn't yet have a sense of the fraud's scale.
"Without a loss amount, Thomasson didn't think he could gather support for an investigation. "A few months later, the CIC, an association of manufacturers that tracks coupon fraud, called back to say they had linked over £125,000 in fakes to the suspected counterfeiter.
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Never miss a moment by signing up to our newsletter here. "At that point, Thomasson started asking around the FBI's Norfolk Office, where he works as a task force officer, for a partner on the investigation. "Special Agent Shannon Brill was intrigued. "It was a different type of case," she said.
The pair went to work. "And last month, that counterfeit coupon maker was sentenced to more than 12 years in prison and ordered to pay £31.8 million in restitution to the retailers and manufacturers who suffered losses in her scheme. "Brill and Thomasson said that loss number is likely a conservative estimate of what Lori Ann Talens, 41, and her group of criminal couponers were able to steal."
Mrs Talens was sentenced to 12 years in prison for "perpetrating a counterfeit coupon fraud scheme", with her husband was sentenced to seven years in because he profited from the scheme and was aware of what she was doing.
She said in a statement obtained by the New York Times that she was "deeply ashamed and embarrassed" by her actions.Read MoreScammers run expensive electronics through Asda self-serve till as apples and pearsRead MoreTop 10 tricks scammers use - and how to make sure you won't be fooled again