Popular Hemp

Fresh out of prison, former lawyer launches $9-million hemp scam, FBI says

LA Times

Mark Roy Anderson of Beverly Hills collected $9 million over four years from investors in his hemp farm on the outskirts of Bakersfield, but there was one problem, the FBI says: The farm did not exist.

Anderson, the investors discovered, is a convicted con artist who started swindling people at least three decades ago. He launched his purported hemp business immediately after his May 2019 release from the federal prison in Texas where he had served more than 11 years for an oil investment scam, federal authorities said.

On Tuesday, a federal grand jury in Los Angeles indicted Anderson on five counts of wire fraud. Prosecutors said he tricked investors into funding his sham hemp business through a company he called Harvest Farm Group.

Anderson, 68, used some of the money to buy a $1.3-million gated residence surrounded by citrus groves in Ojai, according to the FBI. He diverted another $2.3 million to personal expenses, including more than $650,000 for vintage and luxury automobiles, $13,000 for chartered private jet flights and $142,000 for merchandise from Williams-Sonoma, Ferragamo, Crate & Barrel and other retailers, the FBI alleged in a criminal complaint.

Anderson, who was arrested May 9 and has been in jail since, could not be reached. His attorney, Brett A. Greenfield, did not respond to a request for comment.

Anderson used to be a Nevada lawyer, but his criminal record got him disbarred in 1993. His rap sheet is extensive, and some of his crimes foreshadowed the alleged hemp swindle.

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