Don't Fall for McDonald's Monopoly Game Piece Scams

Recognize and Avoid Boardwalk Scams

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When the McDonald's Monopoly Sweepstakes is in full swing, you'll see offers all over the internet offering to trade game pieces, especially for the most valuable combination in the game: Park Place (a common piece) and Boardwalk (an extremely rare piece). That combination is worth a million bucks!

Be very aware: most (or all!) of these offers are scams.

Modern-day "Hamburglars" post ads on Craigslist or on internet message boards saying that they have the Boardwalk game piece, and they're willing to split the big prize money with anyone who has Park Place.

But if you think about it, this offer makes no sense. Park Place is a very common piece, whereas Boardwalk is the rarest piece in the game.

For example, in 2016 the chances of getting Boardwalk were 1 in more than 513 million, while the odds of getting Park Place were 1 in 11. So who would offer to give away $500,000 cash in order to avoid having to spend a few bucks on food or on stamps to collect free codes until Park Place arrives?

Only scammers.

How Do Monopoly Game Piece Scams Work?

One of the reasons why this scheme works is that it seems to carry so little risk when compared to the reward of a million-dollar prize. But here are two ways that scammers use your hope of receiving that big prize to scam you:

  1. They offer to sell you the rare game piece for a comparatively small amount of money. The scam works like this: you are contacted by someone who claims to have Boardwalk, and who says that they'll sell you the piece for a fraction of the final payout. They are hurting for money, and can't wait to redeem their prize, so they'll take just $50,000 now, and you can keep the whole million-dollar jackpot for yourself at the end of the giveaway! If you do it, you'll be out your money, and the game piece will never arrive or, if it does, it will be a forgery.
  2. They offer to pay you for your difficult-to-find game piece. This trick preys on people who have rare game pieces. The scammer will offer to pay cash in advance for your Boardwalk game piece. You'll get instant money, and you won't have to worry about collecting the other pieces in the set. If you fall for this scam, you'll send off the game piece, but you'll never receive the cash. Now you're out the money you were promised AND your prize.

Although the Boardwalk and Park Place combo is the most common target for these scams, con men also make offers for other rare game pieces.

Keep Your Head, Don't Fall for Scams

Don't let scammers trick you out of a prize. If you have a rare McDonald's Monopoly game piece, your chances of winning are sky high. Buy a few more fries or drinks, send in for a few game pieces by mail, or ask your friends to be on the lookout for the common piece you need, and you're sure to get it quickly.

Scammers are wily! Don't think that you can trust that someone really has a game piece because they show you a photo. Photos are easy to fake.

If you have a common game piece, be aware that you're not significantly closer to winning until that rare game piece shows up. Even the most common of the rare collect-and-win game pieces (Mediterranean Avenue) has odds of 1 in 61,811 of showing up. Keep your common pieces, just don't get too excited about them.

And remember that the rules of the McDonald's Monopoly Game prohibit selling or trading game pieces. Doing so could invalidate any prizes you actually do win.

It's Not Just Boardwalk

The Boardwalk game piece is most commonly used for scams because of its eye-catchingly high value. However, some scammers focus on other rare game pieces because they hope that by seeming less greedy, they'll be more believable. The same rules hold for every rare game piece, however. Don't buy them. Don't trade for them. Don't sell them.

If you see an offer to split a big prize for a common game piece, just ignore it. Do not give your contact information to anyone with such an offer, and by all means, do not send them any money.

Important: Don't forget that even common game pieces can turn into wins. Most years, McDonald's offers additional chances to win for entering codes on the game pieces online.