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Fake Listings: Is In-N-Out Burger Hosting A NYC Pop-Up Event?

A mysterious group created a Facebook Event page saying the West Coast chain In-N-Out Burger is giving out free burgers in NYC this week.

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

That appears to be the case with a pop-up event that was being promoted on Facebook with the claim of bringing In-N-Out Burgers to New York City next weekend.

The supposed event, posted by a mysterious group called NYC Popups  created an event page for an In-N-Out Burger Pop-Up, promising attendees free burgers, t-shirts, and (for some odd reason) “free hats” at a location in the SoHo district.

At the most recent attendee count on Monday morning, the event page showed 8,400 listed as “going” with 32k are “interested.”

After we reached out to In-N-Out Burger’s official Facebook page via Messenger on Sunday morning, a response was delivered within a half hour: “Thanks for your message, David. We’re aware of the event you’re seeing ,but assure you In-N-Out Burger is not doing any events in New York. We appreciate you checking in with us and apologize for any confusion.”

We also contacted NYC Pop-Ups via Facebook Messenger as well — there doesn’t appear to be much information about this entity elsewhere — we have yet to receive a response. (Representatives for Facebook have been contacted and we will update accordingly.)

In a statement, In-N-Out Burger sent us this statement:

“Unfortunately, the information in the Facebook posting about  an In-N-Out pop-up in New York City on October 27 is simply not true. We understand that this news may be disappointing to some of your readers, and we hope that no one is inconvenienced by this apparent prank. Thanks again for checking in with us.”

A cursory look at the erroneous In-N-Out event page shows dozens of similar messages by the chain’s official social media team, but the correction appears buried by responses from credulous New York-area Facebook users who are simply overcome by the excitement that the celebrated western-region QSR chain might be making its Big Apple.

Founded in 1948 in California, In-N-Out Burger has done some expanding in the past decade. But because it refuses to freeze its food or open production facilities outside of its home base, In-N-Out has not ventured farther east than Utah and Texas. The chain maintains just 326 locations and repeatedly states that it has no plans to expand its areas of operation.

Sorry, New Yorkers, you’ll have to go west to get In-N-Out Burger.

Beware: Social Media Food Scams

The phony In-N-Out event comes amid a series of high-profile gatherings started on social media that have generated nothing but public ire and significant financial losses for promoters and consumers.

For example, last month, an event billed as the New York City Pizza Festival promised attendees a daylong celebration of slices that food blog Eater said turned out to be  “a total scam” after people who paid as much as $75 each to attend arrived to find very little actual pizza.”

If anything that event, which has been described as the “Fyre Festival of Pizza Parties” in reference to the scandalous Bahamas-based music weekend, has proven that social media users are far from jaded.

The sham In-N-Out NYC event has been comparatively harmless — no one has been charged a dime, though NYC Pop-Ups has gained a long list of Facebook names and contact information.

And for the most part, despite the disappointment of thousands of NYC fans, In-N-Out is a winner in all this, thanks in part to the rapid-response social media team.

A check of the address (92 Crosby St. in SoHo) of the sham “In-N-Out Burger NYC Pop-Up” on Google Street View might have raised some questions as to the authenticity of event.

It also serves as a warning to other major brands who could find their name being used to promote an authorized event, since there is no clear mechanism for consumers to take down a suspicious event page.

“You would think with all the hullaballoo around ‘fake news’ and investigations around the election of our current President that people wouldn’t be so quick to believe something like this,” says David “Rev” Ciancio an expert burger taster and director for Partner Marketing, at Yext (full disclosure: Yext is GeoMarketing’s parent company. More details on that relationship here).

This isn’t the first time New Yorkers have been reeled in by an In-N-Out hoax. About seven years ago, Ciancio spotted a prank by the site CollegeHumor that also fooled New Yorkers that In-N-Out was coming to town.

“No one bothered to check In-N-Out social media accounts or Facebook? They didn’t even perform a Google search to see if this lived anywhere else? In only 2 clicks you could visit the administration page and see that they had zero ties to In-N-Out,” Ciancio adds. “Yes, it would be exciting to enjoy a ‘free 3×3 animal-style in Little Italy’ but if you bought into this, you contributed to modern day yellow journalism, and I’m not talking about mustard.”

As for the individual/individuals behind the prank, they eventually came clean, posting a message on their page saying “At least it was fun to dream” accompanied with a collage of the various headlines their pretend event attracted: