An Albany mother and daughter have been arrested for allegedly scamming the Coca Cola Co. of $20,000 in prizes in a promotion involving bottle caps.
“I think it’s more than that. Coca-Cola thinks it’s substantially more than that,” Albany Police Detective Mike Wood said of the amount of the suspected loss.
The two are alleged to have obtained winning game codes to get prizes such as gift cards, concert tickets and movie tickets and sold them online, Wood said.
Sarah Lanae Jones, 31, faces four counts of computer theft, four counts of identity theft, two counts of first-degree aggravated theft and second-degree theft, according to an indictment. She is set to be arraigned on the indictment on Aug. 1.
Carrie Lynn Jones, 54, was charged with four counts of computer theft, two counts of first-degree aggravated theft, and second-degree theft, according to her indictment. Her arraignment is set for July 25.
The Joneses were booked at the Linn County Jail on Monday and released that same day without having to post bail.
Carrie Jones declined comment when contacted Wednesday. A phone call to Sarah Jones was not returned. The mother and daughter live at the same address on Front Avenue.
Through Coke’s contest, which ran from May to August 2011, customers got codes on bottle caps that could win them prizes. Contest rules specified that a person could win only twice and a household only five times for the entirety of the promotion.
For each aggravated theft charge, police tracked the Joneses’ activity for a month. They are accused of claiming thousands of prizes in each time period worth more than $10,000, Wood said.
In August 2011, Coke workers contacted Albany police about an Internet address that had won an “extraordinary” number of prizes, Wood said.
Wood said investigation included the service of search warrants for the Joneses’ house, computers and financial records.
According to the indictment, the identity theft charges stem from Sarah Jones creating imaginary people’s identification for her own use.
Wood wasn’t sure about how the women were getting the winning codes but said that wasn’t necessary to prosecute the case.
“Oftentimes, when we solve crimes, we do not know the how,” Wood added.
A Coca-Cola investigator from Atlanta and a ticket broker from Connecticut testified before the grand jury.
The case was lengthy because police had to deal with several companies during the investigation, and there was a large volume of information to process, Wood said.