DES PLAINES, IL - OCTOBER 5:  Monopoly game tickets are seen on a package of McDonald's french fries October 5, 2005 in Des Plaines, Illinois. McDonald's, partnered with Best Buy, has started what it claims is its biggest promotion to date, a new Monopoly game called "MONOPOLY Best Chance Game 3.0" with possible winnings of $200 million in total available cash, electronics and food, and a chance to be in a Hollywood movie. The game lasts through October 31, or while supplies last.  (Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)
The Million Dollar Scam Hidden Behind McDonald's Monopoly Game
By Chase Shustack
McDonald's Monopoly began in 1987 when commercials featured McDonald's customers trading McDLTs and Coca-Cola for game pieces and promised extravagant rewards. However, like any game of chance, someone with a particularly clever knowledge of the game managed to scam the system.
The story of the "McMillions" scam begins with Jerome "Jerry" Jacobson, former security director for Simon Marketing, whose job was to deliver the winning prize stickers. When Jacobson received a package of seals by accident from the supplier, he opened the cases, replaced the winning pieces with non-winning ones, and then resealed them.
With winning tickets in hand, Jacobson and his gang of recruits would sell the pieces to anyone who would be willing to pay upfront. While Jacobson and his team of swindlers may have been raking in the dough for a good period of the 1990s, the money train would come to a screeching halt at the beginning of the 2000s.
The FBI, following an anonymous tip, was able to bust up the Monopoly crime ring by tracing thousands of phone calls, tracking supposed "winners," and wiretapping Jacobson's phone line. Jacobson and 50 other accomplices were arrested and charged with mail fraud and conspiracy in 2001, with Jacobson receiving three years in prison and a fine of $12.5 million.