By Sarah Heaney/Accent editor

Thanks to a joint effort by the Federal Bureau of Investigations and McDonald’s, eight people will not be passing Go, will not be collecting $200, and will definitely be going to jail. But you may still have a chance to cash in on at least some of the $13 million this group allegedly stole from McDonald’s instant win games.

Last week a FBI investigation called “Final Answer” arrested a ring of conspirators who are charged with fixing the outcomes of McDonald’s Monopoly, Who Wants To Be a Millionaire, and other promotional games.

The scheme began as early as 1995 and was headed by Jerome Jacobson. An employee of the marketing firm McDonald’s used to promote the games, Jacobson embezzled winning pieces. Using recruiters he sold $1 million winning pieces for $50,000.

Jacobson’s official title was manager of game security at Simon Marketing, Inc.

An informant contacted the FBI last year and told them about the scam. Jacobson was already in the process of pre-selecting winners for McDonald’s next contest in early 2002.

At least seventeen people “bought” their game pieces over the six years of the McScam. Thirteen were winners of the $1 million prize. Others won cars or small cash amounts.

Jack Greenberg, Chairman and CEO of McDonald’s Corporation, issued a public statement of apology to customers after the arrests on Tuesday, Aug. 21. In an attempt to regain the public’s trust, he announced a new instant win sweepstakes to give everyone a second chance to win prizes totaling $10 million.

This Labor Day weekend, August 30 – September 3, everyone who visits a McDonald’s instantly becomes eligible to win one of five grand prizes of $1 million dollars or 50 first prizes of $100,000.

There are no game pieces, no entry forms. A winner will simply be “tapped on the shoulder,” and told that they are a winner.

Local McDonald’s manager Donnie Gordon said he doesn’t have much information about the new McDonald’s 2001 Instant Giveaway.

“I believe secret shoppers are supposed to come in and randomly pick winners,” Gordon said. “Big prizes like this are handled by the main corporation. We’re a franchise and we only deal with the food prizes and small money awards.”

Gordon wasn’t sure if he’d receive more customers than usual this weekend at his store near I-75.

All other Monopoly game pieces will still be honored.

So just in case you accidently threw away Boardwalk or couldn’t find Ventnor Avenue, don’t worry anymore. Even without Park Place or Boardwalk, you can become Richmond’s newest millionaire.

Sources: MSNBC.com, USA Today, Lexington-Herald Leader