Crime Pays $13m in McDonald’s Promo Fraud

22 August 2001

Jerome Jacobson (58), a desperado from the Georgia boondocks, and his gang of seven henchmen were finally brought to justice yesterday by an intrepid FBI after a six-year, $13 million crime spree.

But the James gang Jacobson and his henchmen emphatically are not: no shootings, bank hold-ups, kidnappings – not even a menacing scowl. Instead, the delinquent octet systematically plundered the Monopoly game tokens offered as incentives in an ongoing McDonald’s Restaurants customer promotion, sundering the burger baron from $13m in prize money.

Jacobson, an employee of Los Angeles promotional game specialist Simon Marketing, methodically milked the game of thousands of prizes worth up to $1m although – disappointingly – his methodology was not revealed. Dealings in SM stock were suspended Tuesday pending further investigation.

The FBI yesterday called a press conference, portentously titled ‘Operation Final Answer’ to proclaim its triumph over organized crime. Signifying the importance of the occasion, the convocation was presided over by US attorney-general John Ashcroft (no less) and Tom Pickard, acting head of the FBI.

The investigation had been extensive, said Pickard, who then composed his features before adding: “We want those involved in this type of corruption to know that breaking the law is not a game.”

McDonald’s chief executive Jack Greenberg announced a new game promo with $10m in prizes offering customers a chance to “win every dollar … stolen by this criminal ring”.

News source: Financial Times