Con Man Sells Bogus In-N-Out Franchises for $4 Million in the Middle East
A West Coast con artist is accused of making $4.27 million by opening illegal, knockoff versions of California’s beloved In-N-Out Burgers and “selling” the franchises to investors in the Middle East, according to the Los Angeles Times. Craig Stevens, 55, has pled not guilty to swindling investors for about $400,000 each for fees and royalties to open alleged franchise locations. Stevens has been involved in the scam for over a year, according to charging documents filed by the U.S. attorney's office.
Stevens would have gotten away with it too, if it wasn’t for that pesky wiretapping. He was caught in June 2014 when he committed wire fraud by passing off a fake In-N-Out agreement via email to one of his potential investors, according to court documents. He remains free on a $10,000 bond, and is awaiting trial for fraud.
In-N-Out confirmed that they have been privately owned since 1948, and do not enter franchise agreements or partnerships with any third parties, as Stevens claimed.
Sadly, it looks like the Middle East won’t be getting a taste of Animal fries anytime soon.