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FBI Alleges Attempt to Defraud McDonald's Monopoly Game

Aired August 21, 2001 - 14:01   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: It was a game people all over America were playing. And it may have been rigged. The FBI is scheduled to hold a news conference in just a few minutes so we can know more about what's going on.

But CNN justice correspondent Kelli Arena has been delving into the story already. And she joins us now from Washington to bring us up to speed on what she knows until now -- Kelli.

KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Lou.

Well, sources tell CNN the FBI will announce that it has made arrests in an alleged scheme to defraud the McDonald's Corporation by rigging its recent Monopoly game.

Now, the FBI would only say that it had scheduled a news conference for 2:15. That's about 15 minutes from now. But sources do tell CNN that the FBI will say that at least eight people who worked for Simon Marketing -- now, that's the company McDonald's hired to run the Monopoly game -- are implicated in the alleged scheme.

Seven of the eight are in custody. The eighth is still being sought. Now, it's not clear at this point whether Simon Marketing is implicated in the scheme. CNN did contact the company, which did not have any comment.

Now, McDonald's Corporation says that it is eager to talk about the details of the case, but it has been asked by the Department of Justice to wait until the press conference. The company stresses that no one from McDonald's was involved and says in a statement that: "McDonald's was victimized by a longtime supplier in a sophisticated inside game of fraud and deception. Protecting our customers' interests has been our goal since the investigation began. We're delighted with today's arrests" -- that in a statement from McDonald's.

Now, the investigation by the FBI was national in scope. Sources say it involved FBI field offices in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Memphis, Indianapolis, South Carolina. And sources also say that more arrests are anticipated -- Lou.

WATERS: Do you have any inkling at all, Kelli, what the scheme was? ARENA: I don't. I was told by one source that somehow the people that worked for this company were able to make sure that their friends were the winners of the big prizes, which one would assume, of course. But how this scheme worked is unclear at this point. And we'll find out more details of this in about 15 minutes.

WATERS: OK. We'll be there for that when it happens.

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