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The Largest Scam in Cannabis History: The Juicy Fields Case

juicy fields

On Sunday 20th of November, a group claiming to represent the management team at Juicy Fields and calling themselves the Anti-Crisis Committee issued a statement in video format on their website, promising to refund all investors who have lost money, as well as establish relationships with pharmaceutical companies in order to supply medicinal cannabis internationally. If you’re not aware of the Juicy Fields scandal, let me give you a brief outline.

In short, this company invited people to make small investments to fund small growers of cannabis all over the world but predominantly in far-flung Latin American and Asian countries. In summer of 2022, the enterprise collapsed when it was discovered that funds had been misappropriated to offshore bank accounts and management was nowhere to be found. Investors had no way to access their funds, and have reportedly lost more than 2 billion. It’s been billed as the largest scam in cannabis history.

In the video, six burly dudes sit around a coffee table, smoking blunts, wearing black hoodies and Anonymous masks, while a computerized recording playing on a laptop issues a list of promises to customers. The gang nods along as if to indicate their sincerity. But it’s impossible to ignore the fact that they’re dressed like thugs. Is this the cannabis industry we want? Lars Olofsson, a lawyer based in Sweden, is representing 800 investors from more than 50 countries that lost money in the Juicy Fields scam. In a recent podcast with The Cannabis Review he explains the case and its impact on victims.

QUESTION: What is Juicy Fields?

The company was set up in spring of 2020 as an e-commerce platform inviting people to invest is cannabis grow operations based around the world. Investors were called e-growers. The company’s website claimed operations all over the world in South America, central America, Europe and Asia, making it a global enterprise from day one. They presented a new way of investing in the cannabis industry, a new and disruptive concept, a co-op model.


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QUESTION: How long was the company operating?

According to my research, they put a lot of planning into this project and were in planning stage for at least 2 years before launching the website in April 2020. They were operating up until July of 2022. They took in the majority of investors over this 2-year period. But the parent company started in 2017 as a research and development company. Essentially, this company was presented as a start-up in the cannabis industry, and as I’m also an investor in the space, as well as a lawyer, they caught my attention back then. The parent company, Juicy Grow, is based in Germany, and is a German company. They have subsidiaries in Switzerland, and possibly Cyprus.

QUESTION: When did people realize the company was not legit?

That happened in July of this year when all of a sudden the website was shut down, and emails and mobile numbers were disconnected. That’s when the people wondered if the problem was technical or something greater. I’ve been investigating investment scams for the last 15 years, and I can spot a kind of pattern or playbook that most of these scams employ. They tend to shut down and disconnect everything, and post on the website saying this is just a “temporary problem,” due to “management conflicts,” and we’ll be “back soon.” This is smart because it gives people hope, and the illusion that they’re not being scammed when they are.

QUESTION: Is there a money trail? Do we know where funds were going? Was this a money-laundering scheme?

In my research, I’ve identified more than 125,000 investors from all over the world. Business was done between investors and a Dutch company, Juicy Fields BV, through an account in Cyprus. The bulk of cash flow went to this bank in Cyprus. What I’ve discovered over the course of my work is that the criminals involved in this type of crime are typically using the scam as a cover for other criminal activities, meaning they build an infrastructure, which is used for various purposes.

So, Juicy Fields is just one branch of a much larger operation. In this case, my research shows evidence of a money-laundering scheme. I suspect that the money-laundering operation could be three to four times the size of the investment in Juicy Fields. By my calculation, some amount close to 2 billion euro has been lost by investors.

QUESTION: Is there a specific country that’s been most affected?

The numbers are uncertain, but my team and I have been in contact with more than 20,000 people from all over the world, which is where I get the figure of 125,000. Germany is definitely one of the largest investment pools with up to 11,000 investors. Spain, around 10,000 investors; Portugal, around 8,000 investors. Mexico and France are also affected. But really, this scam affects thousands of people in more or less every country.

QUESTION: Is there strong evidence to convict the perpetrators in court?

Yes. As I said, my research shows that these people had been planning this for years. If we can show planning as well as investment of time and money in infrastructure, which we can, we can also be sure that these people planned their exit strategy to ensure that they keep this money. There’s no logic in stealing 2 billion euro unless you can keep it. My strategy is never to go after the criminals because they are so far ahead of the game. Instead, I go after the people that facilitated the sales and marketing. That’s why I’m targeting some of the large social media companies and some media outlets that allowed Juicy Fields to promote their offer.

These companies cannot just say, we didn’t know! They need to do some level of due diligence. No matter who you are in the cannabis industry you need to have a license to operate. And if you’re a company that handles funds for investment, you also need a license. So these companies should have asked two very simple questions: 1. Do you have a license to trade in cannabis? 2. Do you have a license to give investment advice or conduct investment management? I have a list of more than 40 companies who facilitated sales and marketing for Juicy Fields, as well as a list of more than 70 individuals that helped the company with these services.

These people who work in the industry should have asked these two simple questions, and should have understood that the business model simply does not work. First of all, the profits margins are tiny, but more than that there’s no proof of any end-buyers. This company has not sold any flower to any identified end-buyer. But people also need to understand that there are no big returns on investment in the cannabis industry, and certainly not in farming, as in all types of farming, the profit margins are very small. So, promising a margin of 66% within 3 months is ridiculous. So, the cannabis professionals should have known this offer made no sense.

QUESTION: Can the people who lost money be refunded?

In 95% of these cases, the end result is a settlement out of court. Up until now, most of the social media companies are ignoring me, so now I’m preparing a legal strategy to take this to court. My goal is to a set a precedent for facilitators to make sure they do some basic due diligence in the future. And when damage is caused, they also have to take responsibility. My clients have lost so much money, on average more than 32,000euro, and these are not wealthy people. Most of them are just ordinary people who wanted to support the cannabis industry. So, these people have also had to deal with the mental distress of this situation because most of them have lost everything they had.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

You can watch the podcast here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g30FTyc-djs

If anyone would like to contact Mr. Olofsson to get more details on the case, please visit the website Juicy Fields Case.com: https://juicyfieldscase.com/ 

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About the author

Natasha Kerry Smith