CBD scammer cops plea in California, offers $18.3 million to victims

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A serial fraudster from California has offered to pay $18.3 million in restitution to investors in three companies that were part of a hemp and CBD scam.

Mark Roy Anderson entered into a plea agreement on one count of wire fraud, admitting he misrepresented Farm Harvest Group, a hemp farm; Bio Pharma Organic LLC, an edibles maker; and Verta Bottling Co. Inc. to investors. A federal grand jury originally charged him with five counts of wire fraud last May.

Farming scheme

Prosecutors said Anderson ran a scheme under Farm Harvest Group from “at least” June 2020 to April 2021 in which he falsely claimed ownership of a profitable hemp farm in Kern County, California. Those investors are to be paid about $8.78 million, according to the plea deal.

Anderson falsely represented Bio Pharma Organic and Verta Bottling as “successful manufacturing companies,” according to the government. Investors in those two companies are to receive $9.6 million in restitution.

Luxury purchases

Anderson used more than $650,000 in investor money for luxury and vintage vehicles, more than $142,000 for “retail purchases” plus personal expenses, and spent more than $1.3 million to buy a home and citrus groves in Ojai, California, prosecutors said.

Anderson agreed to give up the Ojai property and a number of classic cars as part of the plea agreement filed last week.

Anderson had previously been convicted of mail fraud, grand theft, forgery and a Ponzi scheme in which he promised investors their money would be invested in one of several oil ventures but instead used their money for personal expenses.

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