Mr Talens took advantage of the operation and helped by shipping coupons “and other administrative tasks under the direction of his wife,” according to prosecutors.
But it was one of the victims of fraud, described in court records as a “coupon lover,” who began to unravel the scheme. The enthusiast reported the couple to the Coupon Information Center, a nonprofit that combats fraud.
The group bought coupons from the Talens, confirmed they were counterfeit, and contacted the US Postal Inspection Service for further investigation.
After executing a search warrant at the couple’s home, federal agents seized nearly $ 1 million in counterfeit coupons. On Ms Talens’ computer, they found images of more than 13,000 “separate and distinct counterfeit coupon designs,” according to court documents. Investigators described the coupons as “Frankenstein counterfeits” in that they contained images, text and barcodes from various manufacturers.
“Despite Hollywood’s recent description of coupon fraud as a comedy or just ‘breaking the rules’, it is serious business,” the centre’s executive director Bud Miller said in a statement. He said Ms Talens’ conviction showed that “forgery of coupons is generally a criminal-level offense, the penalties for which can include years in prison, total loss of assets, life restitution orders and opportunities. reduced employment. Families of the abuser often suffer as well.
Mr. Parekh, the US lawyer, said the program “has harmed consumers, retailers and manufacturers nationwide, as well as the economy as a whole.”
In addition to mail fraud, Ms Talens also pleaded guilty to electronic fraud and healthcare fraud resulting from a separate program of defrauding Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance program from November 2015 to February 2020.