Courtesy of the FBI
The first time the Coupon Information Corporation (CIC) called Postal Inspector Jason Thomasson with a tip about a Virginia Beach resident who they believed was making and mailing counterfeit coupons, the center 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. 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.