Meet Jerry Jacobson. Currently living in Georgia, he stole $24 million from McDonald’s and is responsible for one of the largest fraud cases in American history.
This is the fascinating story of how a former police officer from Georgia became a criminal mastermind.
Let’s dive right in!
Jerry Jacobson Was Determined To Build A Criminal Empire
He worked as Head of Security for Simon Marketing — the company employed by McDonald’s to run the Monopoly game.
According to The New York Times, Jerry was in charge of delivering the highest-value (and rarest) monopoly game pieces to McDonald’s packaging plants.
But Jerry had a bad habit of pocketing rare pieces and selling them to a vast network of friends and distant relatives. He reportedly sold a $10,000 monopoly piece to his local butcher for $2k. He also sold a $200k piece for $45k. Tut tut tut.
Over the years, Jerry became more confident in defrauding McDonald’s. To make more money, he even teamed up with people who claimed to be members of the Colombo Crime Family. They would find willing buyers, sell the stolen monopoly pieces at a discount, and coach people on how to claim their winnings.
But after a while, Jerry’s notorious money-making scheme collapsed like a house of cards. Lots of winners popped up in Jacksonville, Florida, where many people connected to the Colombo Crime Family resided.
It Didn’t Take Long For The F.B.I To Get Suspicious
Special Agent Dent, based in the Jacksonville office, contacted a McDonald’s spokesperson named Amy Murray after hearing about the suspicious scheme. He asked her to contact some of the winners and report back if she found any suspicious activity.
One winner — connected to Jerry Jacobson, claimed $1 million from the McDonald’s Monopoly contest. He insisted on having an address in New Hampshire. But after a quick search of local property records in Jacksonville, Amy knew he was lying.
The F.B.I. was prepared to shut the fraudulent operation down. Special Agent Dent launched a nationwide investigation to find anyone involved in the plot to defraud McDonald’s.
To gather more evidence, he asked McDonald’s to run one more Monopoly promotion. The company was initially hesitant. However, the company agreed to collaborate with federal investigators and launch another game of monopoly.
The F.B.I. promptly arrested eight suspects and charged Jerry Jacobson with conspiracy to commit mail fraud. According to The New York Times, Jerry served 37 months behind bars and agreed to pay $12.5 million in restitution.
After Jerry’s arrest, the F.B.I. arrested more than 50 people after piecing together his large network of accomplices. “This fraud scheme denied McDonald’s customers a fair and equal chance of winning,” said U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft.
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