Next Sunday, the first episode of McMillions will air on HBO. The six-part documentary attempts to explain how a former cop who called himself "Uncle Jerry" was able to scam more than $24 million worth of cash and prizes out of McDonald's.
Uncle Jerry, whose real name was Jerome Jacobsen, was the head of security at the company that ran all of McDonald's promotions at the time, so he was able to get his hands on some of the winning pieces for McDonald's Monopoly before they were attached to French fry containers or drink cups. He'd then sell them to his friends, in exchange for a cut of their six- or seven-figure McWinnings.
Jacobsen wasn't a criminal mastermind, and his shady setup wasn't super-complicated—it basically just involved pocketing tiny game pieces—but he was still sentenced to 37 months in prison and ordered to pay $12.5 million in restitution.
Joseph A. Isaac's own scam was even simpler than that: He just didn't pay out the soda rebates that his company was supposed to issue, and he pocketed $1 million-plus instead. According to the Houston Chronicle, Isaac was the majority shareholder in FulFill Plus, which was supposed to pay $1 to customers who found instant rebates under the caps for specially marked Dr Pepper products, and it should've given $75 to any soda vendor that would switch their soda offerings to something made by Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc.
But from 2011 through 2015, Isaac gave himself all of those rebate dollars instead, ultimately collecting $1,058,445 in cash. The Chronicle reports that he was caught after a California gas station owner complained directly to Dr Pepper that he'd never gotten the $75 he was promised for stocking Diet Dr Pepper instead of Tropicana Fruit Punch.
That gas station owner eventually got his rebate, but the investigation into what happened also uncovered what Isaac had been doing (or, more accurately, not doing) for almost five years.
In September, Isaac pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud, and was facing up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Last week, U.S. District Judge Gray H. Miller sentenced him to five years of probation, saying that Isaac had demonstrated his remorse by apologizing to his customers, employees, and to Dr Pepper Snapple Group itself for stealing $1,058,445 of its money. The judge was also satisfied by Isaac's service in the U.S. Coast Guard, and believed he "deserved a second chance."
Anna Maria Sites, a FulFill Plus employee, has also pleaded guilty for her participation in almost five years' worth of fraud. Her sentencing has been set for February 6. Both Sites and Isaac will be responsible for paying Dr Pepper back for what they stole.
Now that those two have been caught, surely we can all finally make our own million, one $1 Dr Pepper rebate at a time.