It was the largest counterfeiting operation in history, involving thousands of people and close to a million fraudulent transactions which had taken place over the course of several years.
But after all of that, only one person was charged. Everyone else involved was a minor, and it was determined that they most likely didn’t even know they were involved with anything illegal.
When they asked him why he did it, all he said was, “I like kids. I wanted them to have fun and get toys.” He offered no apologies for his actions.
Which incensed the corporate folks at Chuck E. Cheese. They were outraged that someone would print fake prize tickets, then go around to their restaurants, dropping them on the floor for young customers to find and redeem. It was cutting into their profits, and they had shareholders to answer to.
So they sought the maximum penalty. And even though he had his fair share of supporters, those who thought of him as a type of Robin Hood who was taking from The Man to give to the kids, those who pointed out that the prizes illegally obtained had to be close to worthless anyway, the man who came to be known as “Chuck E. Cheater” was convicted, sentenced to five years of daily animatronic concerts and Chuck E. Cheese pizza.
Which was harsh, yes. But they wanted to make an example out of him.