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Finally, the First JuicyFields Arrests – “The Russian” is Tracked Down in the Dominican Republic As Europol Cracks the Whip

Finally, the First JuicyFields Arrests – “The Russian” is Tracked Down in the Dominican Republic As Europol Cracks the Whip

One of the original ‘Russian mafia’masterminds behind the JuicyFields scam was among those recently arrested in connection with the latest cannabis ponzi scheme. This suggests JuicyFields evolved into another scam, that has continued to take money from gullible cannabis investors who to date may have lost US$700 million through Juicyfields and its associates.

Cannabiz/Africa with additional reporting by Dario Sabaghi

26 April 2024 at 11:00:00

Europol have said that nine people have been arrested following the “Action Day" operation on 11 April 2024, involving over 400 law enforcement officers in 11 countries  who conducted 38 house searches.

Although Europol has not revealed the names of those arrested, Cannabiz Africa understands that among them was “The Russian”, Sergei Berenzin, who was picked up in the Dominican Republic. Europol would only say that “a key target of the investigation was located in the Dominican Republic. Local authorities, assisted by Spanish investigators and Europol, searched the residence of a Russian national suspected to be a key figure in the fraud”.

Berenzin is allegedly part of the “Russan mafia” that orchestrated the JuicyFields scam which affected over 130 000 cannabis investors in 11 countries.

Three days after “Action Day”, on 15 April 2024, a known JuicyFields insider was confronted by police at Stockholm Airport. Fanny Schochlund, the Swedish Founder of Naked Media – a company that promoted JuicyFields at various European cannabis expos - was taken into custody with her boyfriend.  As one commentator remarked on Linkedin, that Schochlund’s arrest will send a “chill down the spines” of those behind JuicyFields because she has so much insider knowledge.

Who Is Naked Media?

The firm is a female-led PR consultancy that broke into the cannabis industry by promoting Juicy Fields at conferences, and online. They were hired in the spring of 2020 and were actively working for the company until just a few months before the business was shut down two years later and all the investors lost their money. This includes being present at the over the top party in Barcelona in March 2022. After the scam went bust, they showed up at all the “in” cannabis conferences across Europe for the rest of the year – dodging the questions about why and how they could have worked for what was obviously a massive scam, right from the start.

They have been highly visible on the cannabis conference circuit around Europe ever since. Until now that is.

Another person arrested is believed to be a British man involved in JuicyFields' finances. The unnamed 42 year-old man was served with an arrest warrant in Atherstone, Warwickshire on Action Day. He was allegedly responsible for paying salaries to staff members and helped to legitimise the company by attending industry events.

Former CEO Alan Glanse is reportedly working with the authorities in Malta to help uncover the missing millions, much of which was channelled through the island’s opaque banking system.

The report by Dario Sabaghi was published by Forbes Magazine on 16 April 2024

Judicial assessments show that the losses stemming from fraudulent investments in the promoted cannabis cultivation crowdsourcing platform reached €645 million ($684 million) and involved 186,000 individuals worldwide, mainly European online investors. However, unreported damages may exceed this figure significantly.

The case of JuicyFields, considered one of the biggest scams in the cannabis industry, broke the news in 2022.

JuicyFields, a global platform for investing in cannabis, purportedly attracted investors with promises of high returns from backing cannabis cultivation by industry leaders.

Dubbed “e-growers,” hundreds of thousands of investors joined the platform, depositing substantial sums through bank transfers and cryptocurrencies.

However, investigations suggest JuicyFields might have defrauded its users by falsely asserting partnerships with major cannabis cultivation operators, employing a Ponzi scheme by using recent deposits to cover older ones, and successively freezing accounts and disappearing with funds.

While the exact magnitude of the scam remains uncertain, with estimates varying from millions to billions of dollars, investors, unable to access their accounts, initiated legal action against JuicyFields led by the Swedish lawyer Lars Olofsson.

However, it’s worth noting that prior to JuicyFields’s collapse, suspicions had arisen regarding the company’s unsustainable pledges and questionable practices.

The suspects, coming from various countries, used social media ads to lure victims to JuicyFields’ website.

The investigation and enforcement operations also led to the confiscation or the freeze of €4.7 million ($4.9 million) in bank accounts, €1.5 million ($1.6 million) in cryptocurrencies, €106,000 (about $112,000) in cash, and €2.6 million ($2.7 million) in real estate assets. Additionally, law enforcement seized numerous luxury vehicles, artworks, electronic devices, and documents.

Fueled by cannabis reforms sweeping almost half of the United States and several countries in Europe, but also in Africa and South America, the legalization of cannabis cultivation and the expanding legal status of medical cannabis has attracted significant investment in recent years, with investors seeing this industry as an attractive opportunity, considering cannabis one of the world’s most widely used substances.

However, this progress has also led to criminal networks entering the market, adapting to changing regulations amid the legal uncertainty surrounding cannabis, and taking advantage of the promising revenue that may come from the industry, creating opportunities for fraudsters to promote investment schemes that seem low-risk but promise high returns.

Unlike other frauds in the cannabis industry that may have happened or still exist, the case of JuicyFields stood out due to the enormous amount of money poured in, and the hundreds of thousands of investors defrauded, bringing the case to be covered worldwide and inspiring several documentaries that covered this story, as well as a dedicated website for the victims of the fraud to stay up to date with the development of the case.


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