On Wednesday a judge in Santa Clara Superior Court in California sentenced Anna Ayala, 40, and her husband, Jaime Plascencia, 44, to nine years imprisonment for their role in the Wendy's scam.

 

In tears, Ayala said: "I am truly sorry. I owe Wendy's and its employees an apology. Wendy's had always been my family's favourite fast food restaurant."

 

She called her actions "a moment of poor judgment",and apologised for bringing shame upon her family.

 

The scam caused a sharp fall in sales at Wendy's, the third-largest US burger chain.

 

Uncooked finger

 

In her initial claim in March last year, Ayala said she was immediately sick after biting into the fingertip while dining with her family at a Wendy's in San Jose.

 

"I am truly sorry. I owe Wendy's and its employees an apology"

Anna Ayala

Although authorities suspected a hoax - in part because the finger was not cooked - word of the stomach-turning find quickly spread around the world.

 

The fast food chain claimed it lost $2.5 million in sales because of the bad publicity.

 

Dozens of workers at the company's Northern California franchises were sacked because of the slowdown.

 

False claim

 

No Wendy's employee was missing a digit at the San Jose restaurant, and no chili suppliers reported finger injuries at their plants.

 

In April, Ayala was arrested at her suburban Las Vegas home for filing a false claim against the restaurant chain.

 

A lengthy search for the finger's owner eventually pointed to one of Plascencia's co-workers, who was paid $100 for his digit after losing it in an accident at the paving company where he worked, police said.