Spoiler Alert! This story contains information that extends beyond episode one of HBO's "McMillion$."
Many of the facts recounted in the HBO docu-series "McMillion$" may seem unbelievable to the uninitiated. But truth is often stranger than fiction – especially in the million-dollar fraud case centered around the rigging of a McDonald's promotion.
The story of the fraud was first publicized in an in-depth piece from The Daily Beast in 2018. Reporter Jeff Maysh recounted how, from 1989 to 2001, a ring including mobsters and psychics bilked more than $24 million from the fast food restaurant chain during its Monopoly promotional game.
Central to the entire story is Jerome Jacobson, an ex-cop who figured out the way to rig the McDonald's Monopoly game for more than a decade – taking home millions in fraudulent winnings before the scam came crashing down around him and resulted in prison time.
The wild story quickly faded from the public imagination, however. As WarnerMedia – HBO's parent company – notes in a press release, the case "reached its conclusion on September 10th 2001, and was eclipsed by events the following day."
The scheme began in 1989 while Jacobson was working in security for McDonald's contractor Simon Marketing, where he oversaw the printing of McDonalds' Monopoly game pieces. He soon began stealing and handing out the winning pieces to both family members and a web of "mobsters, psychics, strip club owners, convicts, drug traffickers, and even a family of Mormons," the Daily Beast reported – all in exchange for a cut of the winnings.
But the scheme unraveled in 2000 after an anonymous tip was sent in to the FBI – alleging an insider known as "Uncle Jerry" (Jacobson) was rigging the games and that the previous $1 million winner was a fraud. The FBI launched Operation Final Answer in response, setting up a sting operation to bring down the scam.
The sting resulted in more than 50 people being convicted as part of the conspiracy. Jacobson was sentenced to 37 months in prison – the only person involved to serve more than a year and a day behind bars, according to The Atlanta Journal Constitution. He was also ordered to repay $12.5 million.
But where is Jacobson now? According to The Daily Beast, he is now in his late 70s and in declining health, living a relatively secluded life in Georgia. He still keeps in touch with some of the members of his fraud ring.
However, its unlikely that this documentary will be the last time audiences hear about Jacobson. In 2018, Maysh sold the rights to his story for $1 million to Ben Affleck and Matt Damon's film studio. Affleck has committed to directing while Damon will likely star as Jacobson, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
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