The octet accused last month of defrauding fast food chain McDonald's Restaurants of $13 million in promotions prize money [WAMN: 22-Aug-01] yesterday grew to twenty-one, according to an indictment handed down by the Jacksonville, Florida, US District Court.

Joining alleged ringleader Jerome P Jacobson in court are a further thirteen people accused of conspiracy to commit mail fraud – six of whom also face additional charges.

The indictment also implies that the amount stolen is far larger than the $13m originally believed; also that the scam had been running for considerably longer than the six years first stated. None of the new suspects are employees of Jacobson's former employer, the promotions handling firm Simon Marketing where he was director of security, or McDonald's, and appear to be mainly family and friends of Jacobson.

According to the indictment, Jacobson conspired with the others to supply the winning gamepieces in various McDonald's promos to a network of "recruiters" who then persuaded others to falsely claim they were genuine game winners. After claiming their cash prizes, avers the prosecution, the “winners” shared these with the recruiters, who in turn cut-in Jacobson.

News source: Advertising Age - Daily Deadline