An Oregon mother-daughter duo pleaded guilty to scamming Coca-Cola out of more than $200,000 after they found a glitch in an online bottle cap contest.
Carrie and Sarah Jones of Albany are accused of committing a computer crime after they planned an elaborate scheme to rip off the soft drink giant.
Underneath Coke soda bottle caps is a code that customers can enter online to see if they've won prizes. Carrie Jones, 55, and her daughter Sarah, 31, were somehow able to manipulate the system and win time after time. The women received prizes and merchandise, including concert tickets and gift cards, which they then sold on eBay for profit.
"I mean, it boggles the mind that they could single-handedly fool a multi-billion dollar company like Coca-Cola," Mike Wood of the Albany police department told NWCN
Coca-Cola officials grew skeptical when they noticed an extraordinarily high number of winnings in the Albany area and even more suspicious when the wins were tracked to a single computer IP address.
It is unclear how the two were able to figure out the winning codes so many times. Police said they believe the women avoided Coke's five-wins-per-household rule by creating different identities with fake email addresses.
Coca-Cola estimates that it lost nearly $200,000, and the Joneses will have to pay back almost $50,000 in restitution.
Carrie Jones was charged with four counts of computer theft, two counts of first-degree aggravated theft, and second-degree theft, according to her indictment.
Sarah Jones was charged with four counts of computer theft, four counts of identity theft, two counts of first-degree aggravated theft, and second-degree theft, according to her indictment.
They entered the guilty pleas on Friday.
The Joneses aren’t the first people to take advantage of a major company's promotional contest. In 2001, the FBI arrested eight people for fraudulently netting $13 million worth of McDonald's game prizes.
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