Man Accused of International In-N-Out Burger Scheme
Prosecutors say Craig Stevens peddled fake franchises
By Alex Tirpack,  Newser Staff
Posted May 12, 2015 9:53 AM CDT
An In-N-Out Burger marquee. Prosecutors claim Craig Stevens bilked millions from investors by offering fake franchise licenses.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Craig Stevens allegedly had what sounded like a great offer: Purchase an In-N-Out Burger franchise and bring the fast-food chain to the Middle East. That would be pretty major, considering a slim five US states are home to In-N-Out Burger locations. The only problem? The company has "adamantly" refused to franchise. But that didn't stop the 55-year-old Californian from allegedly soliciting just north of $4 million from "less than 10 investors," per CBS LA. Stevens, 55, pleaded not guilty to wire fraud in federal court yesterday, as prosecutors laid out his alleged scheme, which they say involved contacting potential investors via email beginning in January 2014.

They say he priced the fake franchises at $150,000 a pop, plus $250,000 per year in royalties, reports the LA Times. The wire fraud allegedly occurred six months later when he emailed a fake In-N-Out licensing agreement to an unnamed Lebanese investor. Stevens is currently free on $10,000 bond. As for why the chain is found in so few states currently, the Week explains that it only builds locations that are within driving distance of its California and Texas distribution centers; you can get your fix in those states, Utah, Arizona, and Nevada.