JuicyFields’ Nearly $700 Million Cannabis Scam Case Leads To 9 Arrests

JuicyFields’ Nearly $700 Million Cannabis Scam Case Leads To 9 Arrests

Massive Scam Unveiled: Cannabis Investment Fraud Nets Nearly $700 Million, 9 Arrests Made.

The investigation into one of the biggest scam cases in the cannabis industry, estimated to be nearly $700 million, has led to 9 arrests.

A joint investigation conducted by several European law enforcement authorities resulted in the arrest of suspects involved in the ‘JuicyFields’ investment fraud case. This investigation was supported by Europol, the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation.

Europol reported that on April 11, over 400 law enforcement officers in 11 countries executed nine arrest warrants and conducted 38 house searches.

Judicial assessments show that the losses stemming from fraudulent investments in the promoted cannabis cultivation crowdsourcing platform reached €645 million ($684 million) and involved 186,000 individuals worldwide, mainly European online investors. However, unreported damages may exceed this figure significantly.

The case of JuicyFields, considered one of the biggest scams in the cannabis industry, broke the news in 2022.

JuicyFields, a global platform for investing in cannabis, purportedly attracted investors with promises of high returns from backing cannabis cultivation by industry leaders.

Dubbed “e-growers,” hundreds of thousands of investors joined the platform, depositing substantial sums through bank transfers and cryptocurrencies.

However, investigations suggest JuicyFields might have defrauded its users by falsely asserting partnerships with major cannabis cultivation operators, employing a Ponzi scheme by using recent deposits to cover older ones, and successively freezing accounts and disappearing with funds.

While the exact magnitude of the scam remains uncertain, with estimates varying from millions to billions of dollars, investors, unable to access their accounts, initiated legal action against JuicyFields led by the Swedish lawyer Lars Olofsson.

However, it’s worth noting that prior to JuicyFields’s collapse, suspicions had arisen regarding the company’s unsustainable pledges and questionable practices.

The suspects, coming from various countries, used social media ads to lure victims to JuicyFields’ website. A key target of the investigation was located in the Dominican Republic. Local authorities, assisted by Spanish investigators and Europol, searched the residence of a Russian national suspected to be a key figure in the fraud.

The investigation and enforcement operations also led to the confiscation or the freeze of €4.7 million ($4.9 million) in bank accounts, €1.5 million ($1.6 million) in cryptocurrencies, €106,000 (about $112,000) in cash, and €2.6 million ($2.7 million) in real estate assets. Additionally, law enforcement seized numerous luxury vehicles, artworks, electronic devices, and documents.

Fueled by cannabis reforms sweeping almost half of the United States and several countries in Europe, but also in Africa and South America, the legalization of cannabis cultivation and the expanding legal status of medical cannabis has attracted significant investment in recent years, with investors seeing this industry as an attractive opportunity, considering cannabis one of the world’s most widely used substances.

However, this progress has also led to criminal networks entering the market, adapting to changing regulations amid the legal uncertainty surrounding cannabis, and taking advantage of the promising revenue that may come from the industry, creating opportunities for fraudsters to promote investment schemes that seem low-risk but promise high returns.

Unlike other frauds in the cannabis industry that may have happened or still exist, the case of JuicyFields stood out due to the enormous amount of money poured in, and the hundreds of thousands of investors defrauded, bringing the case to be covered worldwide and inspiring several documentaries that covered this story, as well as a dedicated website for the victims of the fraud to stay up to date with the development of the case.

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Region: Europe

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