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McDonald's Monopoly Scam

A scam involving the Monopoly promotions at McDonald's restaurants


On Aug. 21, 2001, the FBI announced that eight people were arrested for allegedly taking part in a scam which involved the Monopoly game promotions occasionally undertaken by McDonald's restaurants, as well as McDonald's "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" promotions.

Later, a total of 51 people were indicted by a grand jury for their roles in the scheme.

Jerome Jacobson, a security employee for Simon Worldwide Inc., is the man authorities believe was mainly responsible for distributing key game pieces to his friends and family, "winning" about $24 million before being caught. He later admitted to stealing high-value game pieces from 1989 until 2001.

Simon Worldwide is the company which McDonald's hired to run these and other promotions. No McDonald's employees are suspected of involvement, and authorities said McDonald's assisted in the investigation.

According to an article in the September 6, 2001, issue of The Wall Street Journal, Simon Worldwide handled all the printing and distribution of game pieces. Jacobson, 58 and a former police officer, had the responsibility of making sure the winning game pieces were distributed fairly. More than 200 people reportedly lost their jobs when McDonald's stopped using Simon Worldwide to run the promotions.

In May 2002, Jacobson -- court documents indicate some of the co-conspirators knew him as "Uncle Jerry" -- pled guilty to conspiracy and mail fraud. At that time, 29 of the 51 people indicted in the scam had pled guilty.

In October 2003, Jacobson was sentenced to 37 months in prison. He was also ordered to pay $13.4 million in restitution and a fine of $750,000.

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