'Rrroll up the rim' prank leads to accusation of fraud
The famous Tim Hortons "Rrroll Up the Rim to Win" come-on will never be the same for a Vancouver Island man.
Matthew de Jong, a painter from Parksville on the east coast of the island, thought he had won a new car in the doughnut outlet's popular contest, when he unravelled the rim of his morning coffee cup.
He said had picked up the coffee on his way to work, just like every other day of the week.
"I go to Tim Hortons religiously to get my coffee," he said earlier this week. "That day I rolled it up and it said 'Win,' and it said '2009 Toyota Venza.'
"So I called my uncle, and me and him had a little celebration on the phone," he said.
De Jong said he carefully locked the winning cup in his car and at the end of the workday, took it back to Tim Hortons, where the staff confirmed he had won.
The manager gave De Jong some paperwork to claim his prize and he filled it out with his uncle and sent it in — along with the cup.
About a week later the company called and asked him to meet a representative so they could publicize his win in the contest. But that was not what the meeting was really about, he would soon learn.
"He was really nice about everything — he congratulated me even," de Jong recalled. But after hearing his story about the win, the company representative told him everything was not as it appeared.
"At the end he said he was an investigator and the cup was a fraud and I wouldn't be getting my prize," de Jong said.
De Jong said he tried in vain to find out why the company decided the cup was a fraud, but the company considered the matter closed, and he got no answer at all. And since he had sent the entire cup into the company, there was nothing he could do to disprove the allegation.
De Jong was shocked that the company thought he was capable of fabricating an entire Tim Hortons cup.
"I'm thinking how could I make a cup with all the logos looking perfectly on it," he said. "I can't even make a paper plane look good."
De Jong went to the local newspapers, seeking help with his prize. That's when things took a more ominous turn — the company told him they were considering handing the matter over to legal authorities for further investigation, and he could face federal fraud charges if the investigation concluded he was trying to pass off a counterfeit cup as a winner.
But when his story hit the news, a 12-year-old-girl who lived in the house he was painting admitted she had created the fake cup as an April Fools joke. She had printed the fake prize label on her computer, glued it in the cup, and somehow it ended up getting switched with De Jong's morning brew, while he was at the house painting.
CBC News contacted Tim Hortons to get their side of the story and in a written statement the company said the cup did not have several security features and the "Toyota 2009 Venza" was obviously phony. The real winning cups don't say the year, only the car's name, the company said.
Tim Hortons has since dropped their threats of turning the matter over the police, but after all the stress and publicity, de Jong says he's still not laughing about the prank.