Craig Stevens is a guy we can all relate to. Just like everyone else, Stevens wanted to make the big bucks without actually doing any of the hard work. What separates this guy from the rest of us is that he actually found a way to achieve this lazy goal. He didn’t research and develop a simple product that made millions.
Stevens took other people’s success and sold it as his own. Stevens took the easy route by selling rights to the Cali burger franchise, In-N-Out. His bank filled up with millions as people paid their way to own rights to one of the most popular food spots in the state. The success was huge, but, like all beautiful things in life, there’s a catch. Sevens never actually owned the rights to In-N-Out in the first place. He fraudulently sold fake rights to the In-N-Out franchise. To make this catch even bigger, In-N-Out isn’t even a franchise.
The 56-year-old California native swam in the $4.7 million he illegally made until the guy got busted big time. Stevens pleaded guilty to wire fraud for these millions he earned by scammed investors. He admitted that he tricked the investors by having them fund In-N-Out franchises in the Middle East that do not actually exist. The court sentenced him to two years in prison. Steven informed the potential investors that they could buy their own Middle Eastern In-N-Out franchise for the low cost of $150,000 per location. A price that low for a highly successful restaurant is hard to turn down even considering the $250,000 yearly royalty fine Stevens required.
Unfortunately for his investors, In-N-Out is privately owned and has absolutely no franchisees within the five states it’s in. In fact, the scam artist has no connection whatsoever to the company. Stevens was identified during an FBI investigation. They discovered that he contacted an unnamed Lebanese person to arrange the fraudulent licensing agreements.
This is not the first time someone tried to commit fraud by claiming ownership of a fast food chain in the Middle East. One man, with no connection to the company at all, created a bootleg KFC in Iran. Twenty-four hours after it opened for business, it was shut down. Apparently committing fraud by faking a type of ownership or high powered connection to franchises is quite common. So the moral of this story is that if someone asks you to invest in a fast food joint, it’s probably a smart idea to do some research. Just ask Craig Stevens’ victims.