The podcast where TWO passions become ONE!
Sept. 5, 2022

1. McDonalds Monopoly Fraud

McDonalds is the most recognized brand in the world. Wanting to gain new customers and revenue, they decided to run a game. This game would be Monopoly which started in 1987. However things went wrong. Fraud was amongst the game and no one knew. It...

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McDonalds is the most recognized brand in the world. Wanting to gain new customers and revenue, they decided to run a game. This game would be Monopoly which started in 1987. However things went wrong. Fraud was amongst the game and no one knew. It has even called the perfect crime because it went on for so long. How did this happen? How could someone get to the pieces of most value and claim $1 million dollars multiple times?

Join me as we discuss The McDonalds Monopoly fraud on this episode.

McMillion$ Documentary







Cover Art and Logo created by Dazzling_Rai

Sound Mixing and editing by David McClam

Intro script by Sophie Wild

Intro and outro jingle by YourImagingGuy


McDonald's, one of the most beloved and well-recognized fast food chains in the world. In 1987, they decided it would be fun to have a game. That game would be Monopoly. However, what many may not know is that game fell under fraud. Was it possible? How did it happen? How was somebody able to steal the most valuable game pieces? Join me as we talk about the McDonald's Monopoly fraud

on this episode of True Crime and Authors. Welcome to True Crime and Authors podcast, where we bring two passions together. The show that gives new meaning to the old adage, truth is stranger than fiction. Here's your host, David McClam. What's going on everybody, and welcome to the very first episode of True Crime and Authors.

David McClam. It is September 5th. I am super excited. As promised, here we are. However, no man gets to this point by himself. So before we begin today's episode, I just have to give some shout outs to some people who has made it possible for all of this to happen. First and foremost, I wanna give special thanks to God.

He is the savior of my life. I am a proud Christian and I know through him, all things are possible. Wanna give a shout out to my family and friends out there in the world, all of you guys. Thank you to many of you guys to all name, you know who you are, but I will give a special shout out to my wife, Beth and my kids, DeAndre, Devante, Geneva,

And of course Madison, thank you guys for always being there supporting the things that I do Also want to give a special shout out to region 503 504 known as the super region These are my co-workers. Thank you guys always being supportive special shout out out there to Scott collard One day we gonna get you here. He is an author and I cannot wait to interview you Of course to the ham ham hustlers

Jose, Maite, Ali, Jimmy, Joe, Angel, John Carlos. Thank you guys. These are my road warriors, also my coworkers, but we are all up and down this road taking care of our customers in the region. And they get the honor of listening to my voice all the time. So thank you guys for tuning into this one. Also want to shout out to Spreaker. Spreaker, thank you guys for taking the chance on this show before it even dropped an episode.

prime show over at Spreaker. So I wanna thank you guys for that. And a big shout out to my reading partner, Jennifer. Me and her reading buddies, we read a couple of books together and she has always been giving me good feedback on the show. So thank you, Jennifer. And last but not least, all of the authors that you will hear this season, thank you guys for coming on this show.

without you. All right guys, with all that out the way, let us jump into the very first crime episode here on True Crime and Authors. And as you heard at the top, it's gonna be about the McDonald's monopoly fraud. There is a documentary that has just been produced, so I think it was produced actually last year on this. It is on the HBO Max channel.

make millions, just to give you a little breakdown of how we do things here. If you are familiar with my other podcast, A Day With Crime, kind of works the same way. Some of the information I will pull from Wikipedia so it's easy for you guys to follow along, but I have done extensive research into each and every topic you will hear, and I will bring you things that Wikipedia does not cover because they are not always 100% accurate. I will list all of my sources that I use

in the show notes. So let's get started. If you guys know about McDonald's, you guys ain't there, you guys have played Monopoly. It is one of the things that everybody looks forward to whenever it comes out. The truth is no matter what business you're in, every business is looking for ways to keep their customers coming back and also to gain new customers in the process. So in 1987, McDonald's came along

said we are going to do Monopoly. That increased revenue for McDonald's by 40% each time they ran that game. Now the one thing that you may be wondering is, has anybody ever won? I've always went to McDonald's looking for that magical piece, usually boardwalk and park plays. We don't ever get them. We get a lot of food. Anybody ever won? So the truth of that is,

to 2001, there were almost no legitimate winners of the high value game pieces. So from 1989 to 2001, apparently nobody was winning the million, nobody was winning the Lamborghinis, nobody was winning those big elaborate trips that they gave. So some people started wondering, was this a fraud ran by McDonald's themselves? So let's talk a little bit about what actually happened.

The United States promotion was halted after fraud was uncovered. A subcontracting company, Simon Marketing, who was then a subsidiary of Cirque, had been hired by McDonald's to organize and promote the game, failed to recognize a flaw in its procedures, and Chief of Security Jerome P. Jacobson was able to remove the most valuable

and share the proceeds. Let's talk a little bit about that because I don't necessarily agree 100% with how that is written. It makes it sounds like that Simon Marketing knew that there was a flaw or failed to recognize there was one and that's not really what happened. So basically these pieces were produced by Simon and Marketing, but they were also up under the highest security of all time to get them to be passed through. So they have one bad actor

who was Jerome P. Jacobson. Now we have to talk a little bit about how this even came on the table because not like the FBI is just running around and all of a sudden they're just deciding to investigate game fraud. So this actually was a case that was brought to the FBI's attention for some time before it actually became public or came out. This sat on one of the supervisor's desk for a long period of time.

This is young rookie from the FBI named Doug Matthews was getting bored, should we say, with investigating health fraud. Because I guess back then the FBI was seriously involved in making sure, you know, things in our health system was going okay. Doug wasn't down anymore with doing these health cases and he was looking for something new to do. So one day he walks in and he sees this note or this post-it note that's attached to his supervisor's computer. And he says, what's that?

And they paid to just say, Hey, this is something that we got in about some McDonald's monopoly fraud. And he was like, can I run with that? So then he was like, yeah, your man, go ahead, do your thing. Well then on his own, Doug starts uncovering that there was a person that had called. He called the person back who supposedly had all these names and Jerome Jacobson known as uncle Jerry was one of them. And what he wanted the FBI to know is that all of the past winners was somehow connected

And so began the case. The FBI was reluctant to take it on because of the fact that, well, they just don't investigate these kinds of things. It's something that isn't common, I guess, and it's just something that they just don't do. They started to wonder what if there is something to this? So Doug Matthews started running with that. Jacobson justified his long-running multi-million dollar crime as being his reaction to executives rerunning randomized draws

or high-level prizes went to areas in the United States rather than Canada. Although that's how he felt, he did not take any of the stolen pieces to Canada to rectify his supposed problem. He chose instead, though, to personally gain by selling the pieces, and he began stealing winning game pieces after a supplier mistakenly provided him a sheet of the anti-tamper seals needed to secretly make the swap.

Jacobson sold winning pieces for a percentage of the winnings in advance and initially to friends and family, but expanding nationwide after a chance meeting in the Atlanta airport between him and General Jerry Colombo of the Colombo crime family. Let's talk about these seals that he was sent. And I'm gonna tell you exactly how he did it because once again, they're not telling you. Here's the other reason why I don't believe Simon Marketing should be put in here and saying that they had a flaw.

Basically, there was a briefcase. The briefcase was handcuffed to Jerry being head of security. This is how she really took these pieces. Within that briefcase was the million dollar game pieces, Boardwalk Park Place, whichever what it was. So it takes two codes to get into this briefcase. It takes a code on one side from Jerry and it takes a code on the other side from another lady who was his handler.

these two coals been put in at once, you could not get into this briefcase. That means that you both have to be present at the same time to do it and everybody be looking at you, right? Well, Jerry had a brain. He had a good brain to remember things. So what he did was he took this briefcase into the man's restroom where she was not. Now of course, she doesn't believe he can get into this case and he

not be able to. He goes into a stall, he puts in his code and he remembers hers. Somehow he was able to see when she had put her code in before remembered it and that's how he got into the case. Now each of these pieces are sealed and they are sealed by a tamper proof seal so that if it is broken you will be able to tell

Well, that's where this sheet of the anti-tamper seals came in. So somehow the supplier sent him a sheet of these and this is how he's able to do it. So he had a little knife with him, very carefully cut open the envelope, removed the actual legitimate winning game piece, replaced it with another game piece.

He sealed it back up, he put the seal over it, back in the case, closed it up. So when they got to the place where he was supposed to be delivering the game piece, he opens the case, goes in, holds up the envelope and say, all right guys, here it is. We got the winning $1 million game piece right here. Everybody's cheering. Nobody thinks anything, none the wiser.

able to sneak out the game pieces. Also, I have to mention that Jerry was a former Florida cop. So he kind of knew how things would go right in the legal system, how to sneak things in and out, things of that nature. He was also security there at Simon Marketing. So he knew the ins and outs of how the system worked. So he decided to do this because he had got inspired by a psychic that told

receive a big windfall. And I guess to him, this was it. So how does the Colombo crime family comes in? If you guys know anything about the mob, they were a huge crime family right up there, but underneath the Gambino crime family. So in 1995, General Jerry Colombo appeared in the nationally televised McDonald's commercial promoting his win of a Dodge Viper, which was fraudulent.

St. Jude Children's Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, received an anonymous letter postmarked Dallas, Texas, that contained a $1 million winning game piece. Now the game rules prohibits the transfer of prizes, but McDonald's chose to follow through by treating the $1 million as a donation to the hospital, making the final $50,000 annuity payment in 2014. So if you're picking up on that,

That means if I won the $1 million game piece, I could not just give you that game piece and go, I won this, I want you to have it, go ahead and turn that in. This is what happened to St. Jude. But since it is St. Jude who's doing God's work out here, when it comes to children and their family from cancer and the goodness of McDonald's heart, they say, we're gonna go ahead and let that stand. We'll go ahead and make this good and we'll pay out. Again though, unbeknownst to St. Jude,

at this time, that game piece was stolen. It was fraudulent, but they made good. They made their last $50,000 payment to St. Jude in 2014. Then investigations later indicated that Jerry Jacobson had admitted to sending the winning piece to the hospital. And in 1996, in June, Gennaro Colombo's father-in-law, William Buddyfisher, cashed in a stolen $1 million monopoly piece,

But he ended up getting that Monopoly piece from his daughter who was married to Jerry Colombo. That is how he obtained his. So up at this point, Jerry's is handing out all this stuff, but it was not free. So let's talk about a couple of things that's not in here. If you guys get the opportunity, you guys really need to go and watch the documentary

these people are getting talked to. But what happens is, is Jerry Colombo pretty much shows up and says, Hey, I mean, I got this million dollar piece. You want to win a million bucks? And people's like, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Let me win this million dollars, man. So how do we do that? So everybody he's approaching, he ain't doing this for free. Okay. So he's charging people how to do this. So he's like, look, man, give this piece, but I need you to give me, let's just say,

I wanna collect some money off of this for the next couple of years. So I think in total, I remember the figures right, it was upwards of about $50,000 that he wanted people to pay him to give them the piece. Now, he needed like some of this money upfront, but everybody he's approaching don't have this money upfront. So he's like, dude, whatever you gotta do, man,

go out here, you know, sell some stuff. So people was like mortgage in their house that they had to do to get this money. They would give that to him. He would then give them the winning game piece. And then they will go and then redeem this game piece. Now you may be wondering how did they redeem this game piece? You know, nobody knows it. Well, for one, it says you did not need to purchase anything to play because if they charged you, then they would be called gambling.

to McDonald's and go, hey man, look, I got the winning game piece. I'm a million dollar winner. They would sit down at a table. They would look at the game piece. They would make sure the game piece is authentic. They would have you fill out a paper and they would all give you congratulations, hoop and holler the whole nine. And then miraculously in the mail, you will receive your first paycheck. Now I believe that this was on $1 million paid over, I think like 20 years or something of that nature. So you did not collect all of that money

front. But you had to pay taxes on this money, which Jerry Jacobson was not paying for you. So you're giving him money, you're keeping the little bit of share that you got, but you have to pay taxes on the whole one million dollars. So now Jerry Colombo ends up passing away in a traffic accident in 1998. And you would think that at this point, people would just say, all right,

that's going to stop. Because now Colombo is pretty much running this whole entire thing now with Jacobson. They're buddies in arms, he's getting everything done. He now somehow becomes the head of this. So you would think Jerome P. Jacobson would be like, hey man, look, Jerry Colombo died. We got all this money out the way. Let's just let it go. But no, greed folks is a very powerful thing. So what do you think happened? Did he stop?

So Jerry went out and found new accomplices to help him sell the stolen winning prize tabs. I always say on my other podcast, you hear me say this a lot, criminals are dumb and stupid. So now Jerry has new associates. His associates won almost all of the top prizes, which included the cash and cars between 95 and 2000.

have the Monopoly theme, which was the hatch match and win. When the USA wins, you win Disney's masterpiece collection, trivia challenge at McDonald's. Who wants to be a millionaire game? When on the spot, just to name a few. So not only was he tapping into the Monopoly enterprise, he's also tapping into all of the games that McDonald had came out with over the years. The Associates together netted over

While the fraud appeared to have been perpetrated by only one key employee of the promotion company, not by the company's management. So they already knew that it was one person. It wasn't the whole entire company at Simon Marketing that was doing this. But eight people were originally arrested for it. That soon grew to 24 who were indicted and members of the Colombo crime family believed

But by the end of the prosecutions, 53 people were indicted of whom 48 plead guilty, 46 went to pretrial plea agreements, and two others changed their plea from not guilty to guilty during their trials. What I want to kind of get into here is it is not a victimless crime. You got to watch the documentary people because everybody who touched these game pieces now their lives went into shambles. One of the ladies mortgaged her house.

just got all that paid off. She's just putting things behind her. She wanted million dollars, but she's not living like a millionaire. She's still working two jobs to support her kid. And now her name is intertwined with all of this for the rest of life. This was not victimless. Everybody who did this, knowingly or unknowingly, were victims. Here at True Crime and Authors, I read a lot of books. Every author that you've heard me interview

that you will hear me interview. I've either read one of their books or I'm in the process of reading one. So how do I keep up with all of the books that I read? Well, that is where the show's sponsor, Cats Creations 614 comes into play. Cats Creations makes digital handmade planners and journals and for those who want something on paper, printables as well. She can make anything from My Little Pony to Black Panther, anything that you can creatively think of,

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Now, now you may be saying they did it to themselves because they should have known you couldn't just walk around with a McDonald's game piece. I get that, but I want you to think about this for a moment. There is people in this world out here who just feels like that they never, ever get ahead for whatever reasons that is. Could be economical, could be social, could be racial, whatever it is. So you think about this for yourself. You at a time in your life where everything just seems to be beating you down.

You're working two to three jobs just to survive. And the ways that you make it, no matter how much money that you are making, depending on where you live, is just not cutting it. You can't pay your mortgage and eat at the same time. Now somebody walks up to you and say, hey man, look, I got a solution that's gonna take all that away. I can make sure that you win a million dollars right here today. This is all you have to do. There's nobody who that can tell me that you wouldn't sit down

that thought. Depending on what you're going through in life, maybe you're about to lose your home, maybe you lost a loved one, maybe somebody took care of something they didn't take care of, and I was putting you in a position to where you would think only if I had X amount of dollars. So yes, they chose to do this. Yes, they knew, but it was wrong. But when you are in that situation, and it looks foolproof, people's gonna go for that. So the other victims was Simon Marketing.

of this, now understand a great deal of their business. Probably 98, maybe 99% of the business for Simon Marketing came from McDonald's. They were the marketing company that actually helped create the McDonald's version of the Monopoly game. They created the pieces for it. They printed the pieces. They did all of the marketing and promotions. So whatever you've seen a commercial for

marketing that did that. So what do you guys think happened to Simon Marketing after they figured out, hey, Jerry Jacobson, head of security at Simon and Marketing, is the reason why these game pieces are gone and being stolen. Well, as you can imagine, McDonald's said goodbye to Simon Marketing. So what ended up happening is, the relationship between McDonald's and Simon Marketing broke down. And Simon Marketing ends up suing McDonald's over breach of contract, and eventually they did sell out of court,

that McDonald's had against them of why they did it, well, it got thrown out. So Simon and Marketing received $16.6 million at that point because McDonald's called up and said, we're done. We're not doing this with your company anymore. And they had signed no one ever since how many years, but you just don't sign a one-year contract for something like this. It's at least five and beyond. So they still had time on their contract and McDonald's said, we're not gonna do it. So Simon and Marketing said, we're gonna sue you. They got 16.6 million. Now the problem with that is,

they got 16.6 million, it still did not save Simon Marketing for going out of business. And if you watch the documentary, they say several times, the moment that they knew that McDonald's is going to pull out, they started packing their stuff. Because without McDonald's, they had no business. And now that this is such a national situation, no other company out there is going to give them a shot either. So they were pretty much done. Now, four of the

winners, quote unquote, did get convicted of fraud. Their convictions were reversed on appeal to a constitutional violation by which it was confirmed that they did not know Jacobson and thus did not know that the winning game piece is oddly given to them by Jacobson's recruiters when necessarily stolen. I got to kind of call a spade a spade. I know that's what they saying. Maybe they saying that the save phase, but come on people. How many million dollar winners

come across the Monopoly game. You know, they went up 40% in revenue just from running this game. Each time McDonald's ran Monopoly, they increased by 40% or more. And I'm a big contributor to that because I'm the first one going. I'm getting to, at the time when they started this, remember we had what they call super-sized fries. You know, that was basically two large fries compiled into one. You got two game pieces on that, you got a game piece on your large drink, you got a game piece on your sandwich. But I knew that one trip McDonald's was gonna net

game pieces. And I'm doing it because I want to win. I got the Monopoly board. I'm like, man, how come I can never get Park Place? How come I can never get Boardwalk? The way it looks like is it really wasn't designed for us to ever get those, at least a majority of us. Maybe one person here, maybe one person there, maybe one person in between. But I told you the beginning that since 1989 to 2001, there were almost no legitimate winners.

up to you go, man, I got this $1 million game piece in your brain, you have to kind of know it was stolen. The other part of that is if somebody just gave you the game piece, and you thought that it was legitimate. And let's say you just didn't know the rules of Monopoly, then why couldn't you walk into McDonald's and be like, hey, man, I'm a million dollar winner. Jerry gave me this piece. Because they was groomed to be told you can't just walk in and say somebody gave you the

you the piece because we covered that at the beginning, right? You can't transfer the piece. You have to pull the winning game piece yourself. So if they went in and said, hey, man, I got this piece from my boy, Jerry, they're going to be like, well, sorry, Nolan Voight. So you had to go in and pretend that you won this, which Jerry was telling the people he was giving these pieces to. Go with the McDonald's. Act hype. Pretend like you pulled this yourself. Tell them that you won the

So that's another problem that kind of lets me know somebody knew something. You had to know it was fraudulent. Jerry Jacobs himself pled guilty to three council mail fraud in federal court in Jacksonville, Florida. He served three years in federal prison. His trial began on September 10th, 2001. It was overshadowed by the media by September 11th because that occurred the very next day.

We get these guys in court for fraud, defrauding people, and unfortunately, the worst attack on American soil ever takes place. And now this takes a backseat, which everything took a backseat when September 11 took place. So that's basically what happened. There's your fraud. Man, it was horrible. Since then, McDonald's has changed the game up to make sure that people couldn't do this.

way because the FBI went to McDonald's and pretty much said, we got to catch these people. Because after they put the dots together, like this is real, they made sure just let everybody know they went through McDonald's because the first thought was if this is going on, then it's got to be inside job. That's when the FBI start figuring out McDonald's don't have these game pieces at all. Right? This, I'm in marketing is one who makes them and on site and the whole nine

counted McDonald's out, they went to the head of McDonald's security. They went to one of the CEOs and said, okay, we can just let this go. Or you guys gonna have to cooperate with us, whichever one you want to do. We understand this is going to take a little hit on you because the public is going to be scrutinizing what's going on. And so McDonald's had to agree to work with the FBI and how they did that was they actually staged one of the monopoly games. They already knew that, you know,

they already knew where the game pieces were. They already knew what was going on. So when these people starts calling in saying that they're winning the millions or the big prizes, McDonald's already knows it's fraud. And this was a way just to trap the people that was doing it, especially Jerome P. Jacobson at that time. They created a whole production company. This was the brainchild of our very powerful,

rookie agent Doug Matthews. He named his Shamrock Productions. Yes, you may guess it. He named it after the very famous Shamrock Shake. Now, again, this is why when people are being criminals or they're acting in a criminal manner, I'll be like, you guys are pitching to the obvious. Me, maybe I would have caught on to, okay, so you coming to my house, you shooting this, and now you tell me McDonald's has their own production that I've never heard of. It's called Shamrock Productions. You have a shake called the Shamrock Shake.

here, but nobody ever caught on to it. So a majority of these people that was caught and that was actually sent to jail was by Shanron Productions. They were being videotaped at the time that they were talking about getting these game pieces. They were asked questions like, where did you get the game piece from? What McDonald's did you go turn the game piece in? What McDonald's did you eat at to get the game piece? All of these questions just to pretty much lynch them on the scene was what

McDonald's she went to, didn't know the location of the McDonald's, they kept tripping her up. So they were already found out. So if you ever wonder what happened to McDonald's Monopoly game, that is what happened. The game started to do some changes to make sure it was not gonna be able to be tampered with. So that led McDonald's to change up some things. Here's a little bit of how they changed the game. So originally customers received a set of two tokens with every purchase, but now tokens came only

certain menu item. Tokens corresponded to a property space in the Monopoly Board, which it still did. That was with the exception of the Golden Avenue, Arches Avenue properties, which were added in the 2008 edition. An electric company, Waterworks Utilities added in 2014. When combined into color match properties, the tokens may be redeemed for money.

has been the combination of the two most costly properties, Park Place and Boardwalk. But in the 2006, 2007 games, the top prize, $5 million, with a traditional $1 million prize for Boardwalk and Park Place was awarded for collecting the four railroads. So let's break that down. They made it more difficult to win. Also, the first way to collect money was when you combined into any

match properties. So once you got all of the color match properties, those tokens at that point could be redeemed then to get money, but only if you had all of the colors. That's the first way they changed it. The other way as you heard, now that they're adding things. So now we've got Park Place and Boardwalk, they've also

but you had to collect the four railroads to even get the one million dollar prize for boardwalk and park place. That was the traditional one million dollar prize. So they changed from boardwalk to park place and now we got to collect the four major railroads. This was two of their ways of figuring out how we can keep this fraud free. Then in 2001 they went and got another game they tell to pick your prize and that's when the winners could choose which of

three ways they wanted their prize awarded to them. So they could choose, they wanted the $1 million in gold and diamonds, or $50,000 per year for 20 years. And then of course, in 2016, the game changed where all available prizes were cash, including the $1 million for Park Place and Boardwalk, and was titled Money Monopoly. So there you guys have it. That is what happened with the McDonald's game fraud. If you guys never knew that one,

And now you do, I thought it would be cool to do kind of a fun case at the beginning of true crime and authors, because some of the cases that we will talk about going forward, I guarantee you will not be as light as this one was.

All right, guys, that is episode one in the books. Again, I thank you guys for joining me on this first episode. On our next episode, it's gonna be our very first author. You don't wanna miss it. This is a young lady who has just written and released her first title book. It is called Obedience. We're gonna talk about everything from her life to being a survivor,

her to an author of this fabulous book. Her name is Nicole M. Wilden, and you want to make sure to tune in for that on the next episode. Once again, thank you for tuning in to this episode. I look forward to what this first season is going to bring you. Make sure you tune in to that Nicole M. Wilden episode. Always remember these three things.

A little love and compassion can go a long way. And this is the podcast where two passions become one. I'll catch you guys in the next one. Thank you for listening to True Crime and Authors. Don't forget to rate, comment, and subscribe. Join us on social media, on Facebook at True Crime and Authors, on Twitter at Authors True, on YouTube and TikTok at True Crime and Authors,

at Cover art and logo designed by Dazzling underscore Ray from Fiverr. Sound mixing and editing by David McClam. Intro script by Sophie Wild from Fiverr. And I'm the voice guy, your imaging guy from Fiverr. See you next time on True Crime and Authors.