Arrested for Defrauding McDonald's Corp. and its Customers in
Promotional Prize Contests
Affidavit of Richard
Arrests Made in Georgia,
South Carolina, Florida, Texas, Indiana and Wisconsin as Part
of Nationwide Operation "Final Answer"
WASHINGTON, D.C. The Department
of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation today announced
the arrests of eight individuals involved in a nationwide scheme
to defraud the McDonald's Corporation and its customers by fraudulently
manipulating McDonald's promotional prize contests. The individuals,
including an employee of the marketing firm that administers
the promotions who embezzled winning game pieces, are charged
with fixing the outcome of McDonald's contests--"Monopoly,"
"Who Wants to be a Millionaire," and other McDonald's
promotional games--by controlling the distribution of the high
value prize pieces, such as $1 million grand prizes. More than
$13 million worth of grand prizes have been corruptly "won"
by the co-conspirators in the scheme.
The investigation, called operation
"Final Answer," is continuing. McDonald's provided
essential assistance in the investigation and has cooperated
fully with the FBI and the United States Attorney's Office in
the Middle District of Florida.
Those arrested today are:
- Linda L. Baker, 49, of Westminster,
- Noah D. "Dwight" Baker,
49, of Westminster, South Carolina;
- John F. Davis, 44, of Granbury,
- Andrew M. Glomb, 58, of Fort
- Michael L. Hoover, 56, of Westerly,
- Ronald E. Hughey, 56, of Anderson,
- Jerome P. Jacobson, 58, of Lawrenceville,
- Brenda S. Phenis, 50, of Fair
Play, South Carolina (currently in Indianapolis, Indiana);
All of the individuals are charged
in felony complaints with conspiracy to commit mail fraud, which
was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District
of Florida, Jacksonville Division.
"This fraud scheme denied
McDonald's customers a fair and equal chance of winning,"
said Attorney General John Ashcroft. "Those involved in
this type of corruption will find out that breaking the law is
The scheme began as early as
1995, the complaint said. Simon Marketing Inc., headquartered
in Los Angeles, was contracted by McDonald's to administer its
promotional games. In producing and distributing the high-value
game pieces, Simon is responsible for insuring the integrity
of the promotional games. After the game pieces are produced,
they are supposed to be legitimately distributed, providing customers
a random chance of winning. However, prior to distribution,
a Simon employee embezzled the winning high-value game pieces
and conspired to have individuals fraudulently claim to be winners.
The complaint alleges that Jerome
Jacobson, an employee in the security department of the Lawrenceville,
Georgia office of Simon Marketing, and other persons outside
of Simon, were the ultimate distributors of the prize pieces
for the promotional games. The government alleges that Jacobson
provided the winning game pieces to friends and associates who
acted as "recruiters." These "recruiters"
then solicited individuals who falsely and fraudulently represented
that they were the legitimate winners of the McDonald's game.
After the "winners" received prize checks from either
Simon or McDonald's, the "winners" shared a portion
of the proceeds with their recruiters, who in turn, provided
a portion of the proceeds to Jacobson. High-value game pieces
include cash prizes of up to $1 million.
The government alleges that Noah
D. "Dwight" Baker, Linda L. Baker and Glomb functioned
as "recruiters" and Davis, Hoover and Phenis "won"
between $500,000 and
$1 million each. Hughey was a "recruiter" and also
"won" a cash prize of $1 million.
The complaint states that Davis,
who was recruited by Dwight Baker and Hughey, claimed a $1 million
prize in the 2001 "Monopoly" game; Hoover, who was
recruited by Glomb, claimed a $1 million prize in the 2001"Monopoly"
game; Hughey, who was recruited by Dwight Baker, claimed a $1
million prize in the 2001 "Who Wants to be a Millionaire"
game; and Phenis, who was recruited by Dwight Baker, claimed
a 2001 $500,000 prize in the "Who Wants to be a Millionaire"
game. "This investigation has required the utilization of
some of the most sophisticated and innovative investigative techniques
available and the assistance of FBI personnel in dozens of cities
across the country," said Thomas J. Pickard, Acting Director
of the FBI. "This case serves as a resounding example of
the fine work conducted by the FBI."
This investigation was originated
and conducted by the Jacksonville, Florida, Office of the FBI,
in conjunction with the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle
District of Florida. The investigation also involved significant
contributions by FBI field offices in Columbia, South Carolina,
Atlanta, Georgia, Memphis, Tennessee, Boston, Massachusetts,
and Indianapolis, Indiana, Dallas, Texas, Miami, Florida, Chicago,
Illinois, as well as other FBI offices.
Conspiracy to commit mail fraud
is a violation of Title 18 U.S. Code, Section 1341, which is
a violation of Title 18, U.S. Code, Section 371. The maximum
penalty for committing a single count of conspiracy to commit
mail fraud is five years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine and
A complaint is merely an accusation
that a defendant has committed a violation of the federal criminal
laws, and every defendant is presumed innocent until, and unless,