Europol Arrests 9 Connected to Medical Cannabis Ponzi Scheme

European law enforcement officials say they coordinated the takedown of a cannabis investment Ponzi scheme affecting at least 186,000 victims last week with a law enforcement action that included more than 400 officers in 11 countries.

Full story after the jump.

Europol last week announced the arrest of nine suspects accused of a cannabis investment Ponzi scheme that had at least 186,000 victims. Officials say the April 11 action included more than 400 law enforcement officers in 11 countries who conducted 38 house searches and ultimately seized or froze EUR 4.7 million in bank accounts, more than EUR 1.5 million in cryptocurrencies, EUR 106,000 in cash, and EUR 2.6 million in real estate assets. 

Law enforcement also seized several luxury vehicles, works of art, cash, and various luxury items, in addition to large numbers of electronic devices and documents.

The scheme involved a cannabis cultivation crowdsourcing platform that was advertised on social networks from early 2020 to July 2022. Authorities believe there could be as many as 550,000 victims worldwide but around 186,000 people actually transferred funds or cryptocurrencies. With a minimum initial investment of at least EUR 50 in the so-called ‘e-growing’ opportunity, investors were promised to be linked with medical cannabis producers. Upon the purchase of a cannabis plant, the platform assured investors – also referred to as e-growers – they could soon collect profits from the sales of cannabis to authorized buyers.  

The company pledged annual returns of 100% or more but did not reveal how they would accomplish this.

The suspects are of mainly Russian nationality but also include Dutch, German, Italian, Latvian, Maltese, Polish, Jordanian, U.S., and Venezuelan citizens. 

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