As with anything that is popular and deals with money and prizes, the people looking to perpetuate fraud come out of the woodwork to take advantage of people’s greed and lack of knowledge. If you are playing the McDonald’s Monopoly game for fun, be aware that there are a number of scams out there. While I’m writing this in regards to the 2013 game, these scams have been going around for years and will be just as relevant in 2014, 2015 and beyond. Here are some of the more common scams that are going around that target the McDonald’s Monopoly games.
Split the Prize
There are people who will say that they have found one of the rare pieces to the game and offer to split the prize with anyone who is willing to provide the more common piece(s). The most common one is people saying that they have Boardwalk (known as the Boardwalk Scam) and asking if anyone has Park Place to split the million dollar prize. While this is the most common one, this exact same scam applies to all the game board prizes that need multiple pieces to win.
The first red flag should be that the scenario makes little sense. Why would someone who has a rare piece with huge odds against finding it be willing to split the prize in half when they could easily get the missing piece for themselves in a variety of ways. The scammers know that if you bite for something this improbable, they have a good chance of being able to talk their way into scamming you out of some money in the process.
What happens when you contact the person is that they say they would like to sell you the piece instead of splitting the prize. They will come up with an excuse as to why this is necessary (they are currently going through a divorce and don’t want their spouse to know they have money (which she would if he claimed the prize), they are having IRS tax issues and want to keep the money hidden, etc). To keep everything secret, he’ll sell the piece for far less than it’s worth — say $10,000. All you need to do is send a money transfer for this amount and in return you will get the piece and you can claim a million dollars. Of course, the minute you send any money, that money will disappear and you will never see the game piece you were promised. Some of these fraudsters have become quite sophisticated and even generate fake pieces that they show you over the Internet in an attempt to make you believe that they truly have the rare pieces.
Buy Your Half
Another adaptation on this scam is that even though you have a common piece, they offer to pay you half the prize directly for your piece. If you accept, they will send you a cashiers check that will “accidentally” be worth more than what they agreed to pay you. They will apologize and ask you to send back the amount that accidentally overpaid once you have cashed the check. This will usually be a few hundred to a few thousands dollars. When you deposit the check, you think that you have made a ton of money and send them the excess money to the account they asked. If you do this, a week later you’ll be contacted by your bank that the check was fake and you will be out a bunch of bank fees and charges, plus any amount you sent back to the scam artists.
If you see offers to split prizes, ignore them. They are counting on you thinking that you might be missing a chance to easily make a lot of money, and that is exactly why they have set up the situation as they have. Do yourself a financial favor and don’t contact them or give them any of your contact information. Most importantly, never send them any money. The minute that you send money, you can guarantee that you will never see it again.
Buying Small Prize Pieces
While much less common, another scam that is out there are people looking for people who really do have game pieces that have value. These are usually food items or smaller prizes, and they offer to buy them for more than they are worth. What they do is pay for them with either fraudulent funds or if they can convince the owner of the pieces to send them first, simply never pay for them. If you do have some winning game pieces that you decide to sell, never sell to someone who wants to pay in a way in which you have no recourse such as by check or through money transfer. While some people will overpay for pieces simply because they don’t understand how odds work, these people will pay through more trusted methods where you have some recourse such as Paypal or in cash.
Be wary of people who are offering large lots of game pieces online. There are people who legitimately are selling large lots of the game pieces, but due to the demand, there are also people who are offering and not delivering. The scam artist claims to have a large number of game pieces for sale, but once paid, never delivers them. Be extremely wary if they ask for payment by a method where you have no recourse if the deal goes bad.
As with all these scams, remember that if it sounds to good to be true, then it is. Don’t let your greed and supposed “luck” keep you from critically evaluating the situation to see if it makes sense.