A winning ticket for McDonald’s Monopoly … Who hasn’t dreamed of winning it while having a bite to eat in their hamburger? Remember, all you had to do was peel off a small sticker on your cup or cone of fries to be awarded a television, a car or a trip, even if you most often only won a free menu … American soil, the luckiest players could snag a jackpot of up to one million dollars.
In Florida, in the south-east of the United States, the gains followed one another without arousing the slightest suspicion for twelve years … Until an anonymous call came to the antenna of the Florida FBI in 2000. “A crook calling himself Uncle Jerry cheats McDonald’s Monopoly and wins fake players …” As in the movies, the case is entrusted to a fellow, agent Richard Dent, supported by a very young recruit, Doug Matthews. Over the course of the investigation, they will be joined by 25 investigators, as the ramifications of the scam are important.
Chance of hitting the million dollar jackpot is one in 250 million
It all started in 1987. In the United States, the famous restaurant chain launches twice a year a new promotion inspired by the board game Monopoly. If you take off the right ticket, you can walk away with free menus, small prizes and cash jackpots. Few of the big winners. In fact, the odds of hitting the $ 1 million jackpot are one in 250 million. But Jerry Jacobson is not a player like the others and he will prove it.
Ex-policeman, Jerome, says Jerry Jacobson, has been converted into the security manager of a printing company that publishes the famous McDonald’s game thumbnails. Before being transported in the greatest secrecy to the factories to be stuck on the packaging, the lots of winning stickers are stored in a safe, in sealed envelopes. One man is responsible for distributing these envelopes: Jerry Jacobson. In 1989, he offered a ticket for $ 25,000 to his brother-in-law. The plan is working wonderfully. He shares his knowledge with it in exchange for a percentage: his butcher pays him $ 2,000 on a $ 10,000 sticker; his nephew is given a sticker of $ 200,000 in exchange for $ 45,000 in cash. In 1995, he moved up a gear.
“He provided $ 1 million stickers to several members of his family”
“Luck smiles on him,” Inspector Doug Matthews explains in McMillion $ (airing on HBO). He mistakenly receives a package full of tamper-proof seals that close the sticker envelopes. ” Neither seen nor known, it can replace winning envelopes with losing thumbnail envelopes. Jerry makes the exchange in the toilets of the airports while he is on his way to the various factories distributed on the American territory. But in order not to be detected, it varies the locations of the false winners. Very quickly, Jacobson, took the nickname Uncle Jerry and formed partnerships. Thus, at the Atlanta airport, in 1995, he met, by chance, Gennaro Colombo, who prides himself on being a member of the New York mafia. On board a cruise ship, he meets Don Hart, who introduces him to Andrew Glomb at a dinner party. They become these main accomplices.
They are the ones who resell the winning stickers in the United States in exchange for a percentage in cash. But now, the vein is so fruitful that they do not hesitate to share it with their loved ones. “Colombo provided stickers of a million to several members of his family including his stepfather and a friend of his wife, Robin,” said the investigator. “My husband kept picking Italians from the east coast,” Robin Colombo sighs in front of the camera. He couldn’t have been more stupid! “
The trial will be completely overshadowed by the attacks of September 11, 2001
Until his arrest by the FBI in 2001, Uncle Jerry would have stolen 60 vignettes and woven a spider’s web of motley contractors who “ranged from maifieux to strip club owners, and even Mormon families, who have all illegally embezzled over $ 24 million in money and prizes. ” The trial opens on September 10, 2001, in Florida, and will be completely overshadowed by the September 11 attacks at the World Trade Center in New York.
Yet fifty people will be sentenced. At 58, Jacobson, who pleaded guilty, was sentenced to 37 months in jail and had to return $ 12.5 million. He admitted to donating a million dollar stamp to a Florida children’s hospital, which was not forced to reimburse his winnings.
Uncle Jerry (Jerry Jacobson) © DR