A wild story about a network of criminals arrested on charges that they defrauded McDonald’s out of more than $24 million through its Monopoly promotion is making the rounds on the internet after Jeff Maysh unearthed the full account in a Daily Beast report over the weekend.
The story dates back to the 1990s, when Jerry Jacobson, a former police officer, set up a scheme to provide winning McDonald’s Monopoly pieces in exchange for a cut of the money, the report says.
Launched in 1987, McDonald’s Monopoly game is one of the fast-food chain’s longest-running marketing promotions. Customers collect the Monopoly game pieces and tokens attached to McDonald’s packaging for a chance to win up to $1 million.
- In 2001, more than 50 people were convicted of mail fraud and conspiracy in connection with a scheme to defraud McDonald’s out of more than $24 million through its Monopoly promotion, The Daily Beast reported over the weekend.
- Jerry Jacobson, a former police officer, was found to be at the heart of a complicated scheme that spanned over a decade.
- Jacobson was accused of providing winning McDonald’s Monopoly pieces in exchange for a cut of the money. He was eventually caught after the FBI received an anonymous tip, according to The Daily Beast’s report.
In the 1980s, Jacobson took a job at a specialty printing company, where he worked with one of its clients, Simon Marketing, on its $500 million McDonald’s account, The Daily Beast reported. He went on to be hired by Simon Marketing and was responsible for overseeing the printing of McDonald’s game pieces and transporting them from the production presses to the packaging factories. He was known for running a tight ship, the report says.
“He inspected workers’ shoes to check they weren’t stealing McDonald’s game pieces,” one former colleague of Jacobson’s told Maysh.
In 1989, Jacobson made his first slip, giving his stepbrother a game piece worth $25,000, the report says. He later said he did so “to see if I could do it,” The Daily Beast reported; the publication said most of Jacobson’s account came from court documents.
Six years later, in the 1995 prize drawing, when the computer randomly selected a factory in Canada to receive the game pieces, executives at Simon Marketing reran the program until it chose an area in the United States, Jacobson said, according to The Daily Beast.
Jacobson reportedly decided it was time to cash in, considering the game already appeared to be rigged. This sparked nearly a decade’s worth of fraud, The Daily Beast reported, as Jacobson handed out winning pieces to family members and a web of “mobsters, psychics, strip club owners, convicts, drug traffickers, and even a family of Mormons.” His network won almost every prize for 12 years, the report says.
In 2000, the scheme began to unravel after the FBI received an anonymous tip that the most recent $1 million winner was a fraud. The agency launched an investigation called “Final Answer,” tracking 20,000 phone calls and installing a wiretap on Jacobson’s phone, the report says.
In 2001, more than 50 people were convicted of mail fraud and conspiracy in connection with the Monopoly scheme. Jacobson was arrested, sentenced to three years in prison, and forced to pay back $12.5 million in restitution.
The trial started the day before the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the US – which is why, Maysh wrote, it was quickly forgotten by the media.