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California Man Accused of Making More Than $4 Million by Selling Fake In-N-Out Franchises

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Want to open an In-N-Out ? Sorry – it's still not happening, something these investors realized the hard way.

California resident Craig Stevens has been accused of making more than $4 million by selling fake franchises in the , reports the LA Times.

Prosecutors say that, starting in January 2014, Stevens emailed potential investors to offer them the chance to buy bogus In-N-Out locations for about $150,000 per location, with adding an additional $250,000 per year. Last June, Stevens reportedly even managed to pass off a faux In-N-Out licensing agreement via email.

Related: Olive Garden Will Soon Serve Up Breadstick Sandwiches

For a fake franchise fee, $150,000 is pretty pricey, with McDonald's franchises typically costing about $45,000 (though total investment is likely to range between $1 million and $2.3 million). Of course, if these potential investors had done a bit more research on In-N-Out, they would have realized the California chain has staunchly refused to franchise.

While hopefully most potential franchisees put a bit more time into researching concepts before investing, Craig Stevens provides a cautionary tale of what can happen when you pay up before you educate yourself on a franchise concept. And remember, if you see any Chipotle or Tesla locations on the market, be sure to steer clear – those two companies don't franchise, either.

Related: McDonald's Secret Plans to Boost Sales Include Faster Drive-Thru, Frozen Lemonade and All-Day Breakfast

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