O.C. Man Sentenced to Two Years in Federal Prison for Selling Non-Existent In-N-Out Burger Franchises in the Middle East
SANTA ANA, California – A Newport Beach man has been sentenced to 24 months in federal prison for running a multi-million dollar fraud scheme that bilked investors with false promises of In-N-Out Burger franchises in the Middle East.
Craig Stevens, 56, was sentenced Monday afternoon by United States District Judge Andrew J. Guilford.
Stevens pleaded guilty in June to one count of wire fraud, admitting that he fraudulently solicited more than $4.27 million from investors who were told that each franchise cost approximately $150,000, plus another $250,000 per year for royalties.
When Stevens pleaded guilty, he admitted sending an email to a victim in Lebanon that discussed a purported licensing agreement.
The scheme, which ran throughout 2014, fraudulently solicited investments when Stevens “claimed to have the exclusive rights to [In-N-Out] franchises in the Middle East,” according to court documents, which explained that the Irvine-based company is a private held corporation that “does not have any business partnerships or franchise agreements with third parties.”
The case against Stevens was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.