June 25, 2024

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Last week, European legal officials reported orchestrating an joint operation that dismantled a marijuana investment Ponzi scheme, which adversely affected no less than 186,000 victims. The operation involved over 400 officers across 11 countries.

More of the story is detailed below.

In their recent announcement, Europol disclosed that they had apprehended nine individuals suspected of perpetrating a Ponzi scheme linked to marijuana investments which caused financial loss to approximately 186,000 victims. According to the details of the April 11 undertaking—which saw 38 house searches and resulted in the seizure or freezing of EUR 4.7 million from bank accounts, over EUR 1.5 million in digital currencies, EUR 106,000 in hard cash, and EUR 2.6 million in property assets— more than 400 officers from 11 countries were involved.

Besides this, several deluxe vehicles, cash, pieces of artwork, and other luxury items were confiscated, along with a considerable amount of electronic gadgets and documents.

The scheme centrally revolved around a marijuana cultivation crowdsourcing platform promoted on social networks from the start of 2020 till July 2022. With suspicions of worldwide victim counts potentially reaching 550,000, it has been recorded that about 186,000 individuals have invested money or cryptocurrencies. In this supposed ‘e-growing’ opportunity, the platform offered those who made a minimum initial investment of at least EUR 50 a partnership with legitimate marijuana growers, and once a marijuana plant was procured, investors (referred to as e-growers) were ensured a quick profit from the sale of marijuana to authorized purchasers.

Although the accused company assured yearly returns of over 100%, they remained notably silent on their method for guaranteeing this return rate.

The arrested individuals were mainly of Russian origin, intermixed with Dutch, German, Italian, Latvian, Maltese, Polish, Jordanian, American, and Venezuelan citizens.

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