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How a US ex-police officer stole more than $32 million in McDonald's Monopoly prizes.

It’s a true crime story that sounds like it came right out of a movie.

For years, former police officer Jerome Jacobson and his close-knit network of Mormons, housewives, mobsters, a strip-club owner and psychics stole more than AU$32 million in McDonald’s monopoly prizes.

But it’s a case that’s largely been forgotten. After all, the trial began on September 10, 2001, leaving it to disappear in the media in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

But now, since Daily Beast crime reporter Jeff Maysh wrote an incredibly detailed account of the case, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck have signed on to bring the fascinating story to our screens.

McDonald’s Monopoly has been a hugely popular promotion since it first launched in 1987.

In the US in the ’90s, the game gave customers an opportunity to win prizes ranging from a free burger to a luxury Dodge Viper and even the grand prize of $1 million.

But for years, the game was rigged by Jerome Jacobson (also known as ‘Uncle Jerry’) and his intricate crime network.

Jacobson always wanted to be a police officer. But after a few injuries and ongoing medical issues, he was forced to move on, moving from Florida to Atlanta, Georgia where he later found a job in private security.

He climbed the ranks of private security, and soon enough he was in a top position, overseeing Simon Marketing who held a $500 million relationship with McDonald’s.

A US store advertises McDonald's Monopoly. Image: Getty.

Jacobson was the man responsible for safely getting the winning prize game pieces from the printing press to McDonald's packaging factories across the US.

Using envelopes sealed with tamper-proof metallic stickers and a safety vest he invented, Jacobson was the man who made sure the winning game prizes were attached to drink cups and fry packets.

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"He inspected workers' shoes to check they weren't stealing McDonald's game pieces," one former colleague told Jeff Maysh of Daily Beast.

But soon enough, it would be Jacobson who was committing theft.

In 1989, Jacobson stole his first McDonald's Monopoly piece, a prize worth $25,000 which he gave to his brother-in-law. He told authorities he did it, to "see if I could do it".

Years later, in 1995, Jacobson was accidentally sent anti-tamper metallic stickers – the exact ones used on McDonald's envelopes – and his master plan fell into place.

While travelling across the US to distribute the winning pieces, Jacobson would go into the men's bathroom and replace the winning pieces in the envelope with normal pieces, using his newly-discovered anti-tamper stickers to cover his tracks.

He also stole a document, which he believed insinuated McDonald's had a plan in place to ensure customers in Canada would never receive high-value prizes, to use against his employer if caught.

"Sooner or later somebody was going to be asking questions about why there were no winners in Canada," he said.

Looking for more true crime? These are our top five true crime documentaries.

Obviously unable to claim the prizes himself, Jacobson teamed up with strip club owner Gennaro Colombo, who would help Jacobson sell the winning tickets in exchange for a fee.

$1 million winners would pay Jacobson up to $50,000 for the winning Monopoly piece. In total, Jacobson made more than $32 million from his sales.

He didn't sell all the stolen pieces however, he also mailed a $1 million prize to the St. Jude Children's Research hospital in Tennessee, who publicly thanked their anonymous donor on national television.

In 2000, the FBI caught wind of what was happening after receiving an anonymous tip off that the game was being rigged by a man called 'Uncle Jerry'.

After months of investigation, in 2001 the FBI arrived at the home of a man who had "won" the $1 million prize, posing as a McDonald's film crew.

Eight people, including Jacobson were arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud.

Jacobson, now 76 years old, served just over three years in prison, and now lives at home in Georgia.

There's no word yet of when Matt Damon and Ben Affleck's McDonald's Monopoly film is set to be released.

Affleck is reportedly set to direct the film, while Damon will star.

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