The Poker analogy
In this section, we are trying to analyze the fraud from a different angle. Let's assume, for the sake of the argument, that McDonald's fraud was legal (even though it is not! but let's assume it is). Let's see what the consequences would be for the consumers and what it would mean.
A very good example to consider is the case of an online Poker website. Just like the Monopoly whose purpose is to collect properties to complete a property set, the purpose of Poker is to collect suit of cards. In the Monopoly game, people naturally expect they have 1 chance out of 26 to get any of 26 properties. In a Poker game, players expect to have 1 chance out of 52 to get any of the 52 cards of the standard 52 cards deck.
If what McDonald's did was legal, since the law applies the same way to everyone, it would mean that to rig the deck of cards at a Poker game would also be legal. It can't be! It simply can't be! It's common sense!
Whoever would launch these kind of rigged online casinos would make a fortune. Wouldn't this amount to fraud? Of course it would be fraud. It's not any different from what McDonald's did.
Remember that the core of the fraud is the deliberate intent from McDonald's to mislead the consumers into believing something which isn't true. They want the consumers to believe you have an equal probability to get any of the 26 properties and that's what they exactly stated when they called their game Monopoly or when they printed Monopoly game boards with an equal proportion of each property.
A court will never be able to claim that what McDonald's did wasn't at least misleading advertising. And if there is a justice, McDonald's will be condemned for fraud.
Another analogy : the supermarket.
Imagine you go to the supermarket and that you decide to purchase some prepared lasagna. The box shows on its front that the meat being used is beef, it displays like this : "Beef lasagna". Would it be legal if the real content of the meat inside the lasagna was 1% of beef and 99% of horse meat or something else? It would obviously be illegal and you don't need to be an expert to realize that. It is, though, what McDonald's is doing when they call their game Monopoly and that they therefore implicitely claim you have the same probabilities to get any of the 26 properties. The principle is exactly the same. It's the principle to mislead people! Considering the scale of the advertising surounding this promotion, and considering the fact that McDonald's executives knew the game was illegal, McDonald's Monopoly amounts to fraud.
It's not because McDonald's is multinational corporation that they are above the law! Some people think there's got to be something, a logical explanation, that they couldn't have possibly committed fraud. If this is the way you think, you should think twice. Meditate a few minutes about the Volkswagen scandal. Would you have sincerely thought, before the scandal broke out, that it was possible for a multinational car company to rig its engines? And as we later found out, they were not the only car company to do so.
McDonald's did commit fraud. McDonald's did violate the laws of many countries around the world. It was their choice, their decision. No one forced them to organize this Monopoly game which is in reality a fraud. They wanted to make more money on the back of the consumers by misleading them, period. They now must pay a price for their actions. No one should be above the law and certainly not a mutinational corporation which tries to pretend to be an ethical company.