Food & Drink

This Con Man Made Millions Selling Fake In-N-Outs in the Middle East

An amateur swindler might promise you fabulous wealth or an authentic Picasso painting. But Craig Stevens knows what you really want: In-N-Out burgers. The con artist currently stands accused of leeching $4.27 million off investors on the promise of In-N-Out franchises that didn't exactly exist.

Stevens began his scheme back in January, when he started emailing potential marks about In-N-Out franchises he planned to bring to the Middle East. They could have a location for $150,000, plus an additional $250,000 per year in royalties. Later on in June, he sent one unidentified Lebanese investor a made-up licensing agreement, which landed him with his wire fraud charge.

Stevens pled not guilty on Monday in Santa Ana, but his trial won't start until July, so he's free for now. You can likely spot him outside an OC In-N-Out, whispering about primo franchising deals in Belarus.

Kristin Hunt is a Food/Drink staff writer for Thrillist, and is surprised more Nigerian princes don't promise bogus In-N-Outs. Follow her to pyramid schemes at @kristin_hunt.