4 Convicted in McDonald's Contest Scam

A jury convicted four men Friday for their involvement in a crime ring that stole high-value prize tickets in McDonald's promotional games and redeemed them for $20 million in fraudulent winnings from 1989 to 2001.

The four were convicted of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and are to be sentenced in January. According to the charges, the men recruited people to act as contest “winners” to redeem prize pieces in popular McDonald's games, including Monopoly and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, stolen by Jerome Jacobson.

Jacobson was director of security for the marketing company in charge of running the games for the fast-food chain, Simon Marketing. Simon lost McDonald's and several other large accounts after the scam came to light in August 2001.

Those convicted included: George Chandler, 30, of Walhalla, SC; Kevin Whitfield of Savannah, GA; Jerome Pearl, 45, of Miami and John Henderson, 50, of Las Vegas. A fifth man, Thomas Lambert, 56, of Ohio, was acquitted of the same charges.

Jacobson has pleaded guilty to stealing the tickets and faces up to 15 years in prison. Forty-nine people have pleaded guilty to involvement in the crime ring.

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