A federal grand jury in Los Angeles, California on Tuesday indicted Mark Roy Anderson on five counts of wire fraud after he collected $9 million from investors for a hemp farm that never existed, the Los Angeles Times reports. Anderson launched the purported business after he was released from prison in May 2019, after serving more than 11 years for an oil investment scam.
Prosecutors said Anderson used the money collected from investors for Harvest Farm Group to buy a $1.3 million property in Ojai and another $2.3 million on personal expenses, including more than $650,000 for vintage and luxury automobiles, $13,000 for chartered private jet flights, and $142,000 for other high-end merchandise, according to Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) investigators in the criminal complaint.
Anderson has a history of scams dating back to 1988 when he swindled an individual to pay him $400,000 for an interest in a Beverly Hills office building that he falsely claimed to own. He also scammed another individual to pay $175,000 for an interest in a La Jolla building that he didn’t own. For those, and other financial crimes, Anderson pleaded guilty to grand theft and other charges and was sentenced to four years in prison, the report says.
Also in the 1980s, Anderson ran a Ponzi-style scheme to cheat investors in a scheme claiming he was restoring historic buildings around the country – he was sentenced to seven more years in prison for those crimes.
In November 2020, Anderson was released under three-year court supervision, a condition of his probation was that he not engage in investment projects; but by then, the hemp investment scheme was already in motion, according to the FBI.
Anderson was arrested on May 9 and remains in jail.
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