California Con Artist Scams Investors Out of $18.4 Million with Fake Cannabis Businesses

A 69-year-old California man has pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges for swindling investors out of $18.4 million by inventing fictional cannabis and hemp businesses. Mark Roy Anderson, a convicted con artist, admitted to engaging in two separate schemes that defrauded investors, including creating fake companies, farms, and products.

Anderson’s schemes began while he was on home confinement and supervised release after serving time for prior criminal charges. He targeted investors by claiming to own and operate a hemp farm in Kern County, California, and promised high returns on investments in his company, Harvest Farm Group. However, the farm and its operations were entirely fictional.

To convince investors, Anderson created fake legal and business documents, including purchase order contracts and product samples. He also falsely claimed that sales of his products were delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a second scheme, Anderson created two more sham companies, Bio Pharma and Verta Bottling, claiming they manufactured and sold infused products such as CBD-infused avocado oil and beverages. He provided investors with fake documents and samples, and even claimed to own millions of dollars’ worth of assets.

Anderson’s conning spree has finally come to an end, but his case serves as a warning to investors to be cautious of bogus cannabis companies. In recent years, there have been several cases of fraud and scams in the cannabis industry, with investors losing millions of dollars.

Celebrities have also been targeted by fake cannabis companies, with some being used in fake endorsements or having their likenesses misused. In one notable case, actor Sacha Baron Cohen filed a $9 million lawsuit against a dispensary that used his image without permission.

The cannabis industry is largely unregulated, making it a prime target for scammers and fraudsters. Investors are urged to approach offers with caution and thoroughly research companies before investing.


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