Tags: Indicted | McDonald's | Scam

21 Indicted in McDonald's Scam

Monday, 10 September 2001 12:00 AM

The alleged ringleader, Jerome P. Jacobson, 58, of Lawrenceville, Ga., was director of security for Simon Marketing Inc., the company hired to run the promotion for the fast-food giant.

All 21 are charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud. Jacobson is also charged with eight additional counts of mail fraud. He allegedly kept more than $20 million worth of rare winning game pieces needed to complete sweepstakes puzzles, distributing them to friends and relatives instead of to the restaurants.

The alleged co-conspirators are accused of either claiming the large prizes of up to $1 million themselves, or of recruiting others to do it. The illicit winnings were then shared with all involved.

Investigators said Jacobson began the illegal activities in the late 1980s.

The original tip that something might be wrong with the sweepstakes came from an anonymous tipster in Jacksonville, where three suspects live. They are Robin Colombo, who is accused of recruiting her father, William Fisher, and her friend Gloria Brown to participate. Fisher claimed a $1 million prize in 1996, and Brown was awarded a $1 million prize in 1997.

To win the prizes, consumers had to find a rare instant win or collect and win game pieces that were distributed on food wrappers and in newspaper advertising supplements. Prizes ranged from McDonald's food to cars to large sums of cash.

Some of the sweepstakes were based on the Monopoly board game or on the "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" TV quiz show.

The FBI has been investigating the alleged scam since 1995 under the name Operation Final Answer. The indictment also seeks recovery of more than $10 million.

No McDonald's employees are accused of any involvement in the scam. As an apology, the corporation held an instant-win sweepstakes over Labor Day weekend in which several prizes of $100,000 and $1 million were given to people who simply walked into selected restaurants.

Copyright 2001 by United Press International.

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The alleged ringleader, Jerome P. Jacobson, 58, of Lawrenceville, Ga., was director of security for Simon Marketing Inc., the company hired to run the promotion for the fast-food giant. All 21 are charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud. Jacobson is also charged...
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2001-00-10
Monday, 10 September 2001 12:00 AM
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