Attorney General Prepared Remarks
Operation "Final Answer" News Conference NOTE: THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OFTEN DEVIATES FROM PREPARED REMARKS. August 21, 2001
This morning, the agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested eight individuals in several states for their involvement in a nationwide scheme to defraud the McDonald's Corporation and its customers by fraudulently manipulating McDonald's promotional prize contests.
In a complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida these individuals are charged with fixing the outcome of several of McDonald's contests by controlling the distribution of the high value prize pieces, such as the $1 million grand prize pieces.
Many Americans are familiar with these contests - Monopoly, Who Wants to be a Millionaire, and other promotional games.
Arrests were made today in Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Wisconsin, South Carolina and Texas, as part of an ongoing nationwide investigation, called, "Operation Final Answer."
Those arrested today are:
- Linda L. Baker of Westminster, South Carolina;
- Noah D. "Dwight" Baker also of Westminster, South Carolina;
- John F. Davis of Granbury, Texas;
- Andrew M. Glomb of Fort Lauderdale, Florida;
- Michael L. Hoover of Westerly, Rhode Island;
- Ronald E. Hughey of Anderson, South Carolina;
- Jerome P. Jacobson of Lawrenceville, Georgia; and
- Brenda S. Phenis of Fair Play, South Carolina.
All of these individuals are charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud.
This scheme began as early as 1995, and this is how it took place. Simon Marketing Inc. was contracted by McDonald's to administer its promotional games.
After game pieces were produced, they were supposed to be legitimately distributed to provide customers a random chance of winning.
However, the government is charging that a Simon employee, Jerome Jacobson, embezzled the winning high-value game pieces and conspired to have individuals fraudulently claim to be the winners.
The complaint alleges that Jacobson provided the winning game pieces to his friends and associates who acted as "recruiters."
These "recruiters" then solicited others who falsely and fraudulently represented that they were the legitimate winners of the McDonald's game.
After these so called, "winners" received their prize checks, they shared a portion of the proceeds with their "recruiters," who in turn, provided a portion of the proceeds to Jacobson.
More than $13 million worth of grand prizes have been corruptly "won" by the co-conspirators in the scheme.
As you can see, this fraud scheme denied McDonald's customers a fair and equal chance of winning. We want those involved in this type of corruption to know that breaking the law is not a game.
I want to commend the fine work of the FBI and the Jacksonville Division of the United States Attorney's office for the Middle District of Florida. Everyone involved in this investigation has worked hard to break this conspiracy.
I also want to acknowledge the indispensable assistance of McDonald's. The company has cooperated fully in this ongoing investigation and that cooperation has helped make today's arrests possible. We are grateful to them for that.