Last week, the Berlin State Criminal Police Office conducted searches of apartments and business premises at two locations on behalf of the Berlin Public Prosecutor's Office in connection with the investigation into twelve individuals allegedly responsible for the Internet platform "juicyfields.io".
Since last July, controversy and confusion have surrounded this worldwide cannabis investment platform. As of 2020, Juicy Fields offered investors, also called "e-growers," the opportunity to participate in growing, harvesting, and selling cannabis plants with 6%-14% monthly returns.
JuicyFields claimed its platform had 500,000 users, most from Europe and Latin America. E-growers could invest up to $183,000, starting from $51. Money could be deposited and withdrawn via bank transfer or cryptocurrencies. They could allegedly buy and sell plants, manage them in virtual greenhouses, and have their money paid out. So far, Belin authorities have received notifications from 230 investors.
As the weeks go by, there is less doubt that the cannabis investment platform is another fraud case with hundreds of thousands of users affected and an estimated total of hundreds of millions of dollars defrauded.
Numerous authorities, including the Spanish National Securities Market Commission (CNMV), the German Federal Financial Supervision Authority (BaFin), and the Dutch Financial Authority (AMF) warned investors about the risks and inconsistencies associated with Juicy Fields' claims since it debuted in the financial world. Among the most suspicious were:
Frequent headquarter changes: whenever agencies alerted about a possible scam, the company moved its headquarters to a new location.
Fake contracts: the investment company claimed to have contracts with cannabis industry giants such as Canopy Growth and Aurora. Both denied any relationship with Juicy Fields.
Investment firms must comply with KYC (know your customer) laws in countries with strict anti-money laundering laws. The company said it was able to overcome "those hurdles."
Dubious business model: The company claimed to access a gram of cannabis at a price of 20 cents on the dollar, thus justifying its disproportionate returns, when in that market, the cheapest price per gram, in extremely rare cases, is 80 cents.
Over-The-Top cannabis figures: the most fantastical claim by Juicy Field implied that for each e-grower with a single plant (the minimum investment) the company would be able to grow and harvest more than six plants per square meter, something impossible for the cannabis industry.
The current investigation by the German authorities wants to clarify if the plants actually existed or whether investors were deceived as part of a "ponzi or pyramid scheme." The amount of any damage is also under investigation. The assets of the four companies, Juicy Grow GmbH (Germany), JuicyFields AG (Switzerland), Juicy Holdings BV, (The Netherlands and Portugal) have been seized, each with a worth of EUR 2,557,197.97.
This case is far from over, investigation is still underway by the State Criminal Police Office and the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin) against Juicy Holdings BV for violating the Investment Act.