Europe, 23 April, 2024 Eurojust has played a crucial role in supporting national authorities across Europe to dismantle two criminal organizations involved in a massive fraud scheme related to fake investments in medicinal cannabis plants. The fraudulent activities, estimated at approximately EUR 645 million, were conducted through deceptive online advertisements and money laundering operations. Coordinated efforts have resulted in the arrest of nine suspects, marking a significant milestone in combating transnational fraud.

The fraudulent scheme, resembling a pyramid or ‘Ponzi fraud,’ entailed enticing victims with promises of high returns on investments in cannabis plant cultivation for medicinal purposes. Despite soliciting over 4,500 victims in Germany, France, and Spain alone, investigations revealed that no legitimate cannabis plants were ever purchased, with funds instead being misappropriated to sustain the scheme and expand its reach through extensive online campaigns.

Eurojust’s extensive support, initiated in 2022, facilitated the establishment and funding of a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) involving German, Spanish, and French authorities. This collaboration culminated in a successful Joint Action Day, bolstered by operational actions spanning multiple countries, including Estonia, Latvia, Italy, Malta, Poland, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and the Dominican Republic.

Europol, alongside Eurojust, played a pivotal role in coordinating this extensive cross-border investigation, leading operational efforts and providing tailored analytical support. The joint operation resulted in the freezing of millions of Euros in crypto assets and bank accounts, alongside the seizure of real estate properties, luxury vehicles, artwork, cash, and electronic devices.

With over thirty locations searched and cooperation from various national agencies, including law enforcement and prosecutorial bodies from Germany, Spain, France, Estonia, Latvia, Italy, Malta, Poland, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and the Dominican Republic, this collaborative effort marks a significant milestone in combating transnational fraud networks.

James Roberto

A multimedia journalist focused on producing articles about controversial global issues specifically on business, economy, politics, and technology. A strong believer in freedom of the press and exposing the wrong. only through engagement and communications can we as humans evolve. An accredited member of a leading local broadcast media organization.