Juicy Fields Scam!

Stephen Andrews
18 Jul 2022

Spanish publisher El País Financiero reports that the cannabis investment platform Juicy Fields is involved in a huge financial fraud potentially affecting tens or hundreds of thousands of users across Spain and Europe. The scam is possibly as heavy as hundreds of millions of euros.

El País Financiero published a piece over the weekend claiming that "cannabis crowdgrowing platform" Juicy Fields is involved in a vast money laundering scheme amounting to hundreds of millions of euros. The bombshell news reportedly comes as 17 million dollars disappeared from a wallet linked to Juicy Fields, blockchain analysis points out. 

The suspicious activities detected in mid-July developed at an accelerated rate. Juicy Fields platform users initially reported on social media that they were being blocked from withdrawals. Their money was locked up in the company's accounts, it appeared.

Things escalated between July 11 and 14. This is when Juicy Fields's director of communication, Zvezda Lauric, came forward with a statement that the company's network was hacked and they are waiting to release funds. In a follow-up, Lauric informed on Instagram that the company's CEO, Williem van der Merwe, had resigned. 

Those affected by the development believe that the alleged fraudsters are now buying time to withdraw the money in a "clean" way. Legal actions are already set in motion against Juicy Fields at different locations in Europe.

The Dubious Business Model of Juicy Fields 

Analysts suggest that Juicy Fields promised its users or e-growers return figures that were unrealistic. 

Under the model, the company also promised access to a gram of marijuana for 20 cents (US dollars), well below the lowest prices per gram on the market (that is, 80 cents per gram).

While registration for new "growers" on the Juicy Fields platform is now closed, it was possible to place from 50 to 2,000 euros in each investment. As many times as desired. Juicy Fields operated with four modalities to attract investors, which go as follows: 

Juicy Flash: has a unit investment of €50 and a duration of 108 days to "harvest". The return rate was from €68 to €83.

Juicy Haze: a unit investment of €2,000, with a duration of 5 years and 10 "harvests". The return range from each "harvest" is between 900€ and 1,200€.

Juicy Kush: the second €2,000 investment option. Users wait four years to benefit from 12 "harvests" and earn up to 750€ euros for each.

Juicy Mist: a one-time initial investment of €2,000 with a return in the range of €300 and €400 per "harvest" four times a year. 

In sum, users were offered monthly returns of anywhere between 6% and 14%. 

The company's data from last June shows that the platform's number of users or e-growers surpassed half a million. Each e-grower would have had the option to invest up to €180,000, with some of them possibly setting up multiple accounts.

On the other hand, Juicy Fields claimed to have 80,000 square meters at their disposal for cannabis crops. 

El País Financiero writes that the simple assumption that each Juicy Fields user owned a single plant, or made the minimum investment of 50€, would imply that the firm would be managing to plant and harvest more than six plants per square meter. Which does sound a bit far-fetched.

There Were Warnings

Suspicions of a potential Juicy Fields exit scam were already there earlier this year. A major concern among investors had been the exceptionally high returns offered on the platform. 

While some warnings were communicated on channels such as the Rankia on Youtube, red flags were reportedly raised by several legal bodies across Europe as well. The Spanish National Securities Market Commission (CNMV) and the German Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin) have both warned of a possible fraudulent organisation. 

Users have also been alerted by the Dutch Authority of the Financial Markets (AMF). The company was allegedly registered in the Netherlands, according to its website. TBBOB investigators reportedly contacted the AMF as early as February and were allegedly told Juicy Fields is "probably a scam." Whilst the company appeared registered in the Netherlands, it supposedly did not have any kind of license to provide financial services. 

However, El País Financiero highlights a few more dubious aspects of Juicy Fields' operations. The firm reportedly changed headquarters after authorities had warned of a possible scam. Juicy Fields also claimed to have contracts with cannabis industry giants such as Canopy Growth and Aurora, both of which have denied having any connection with the purported platform. The firm is also likely to have bypassed anti-money laundering laws so that it could implement its business model. 

The Exit Scam in the Making

The article from El País Financiero extensively describes the methods by which Juicy Fields would have prepared the ground for the alleged exit scam. Company activities included hiring social media "influencers" and launching a referral program with attractive incentives for prescribes. This is what helped them build a following of hundreds of thousands of users in the first place. 

Juicy Fields would have used its vast network of digital agents to gain credibility and exposure among the public, with agents sometimes taking extra steps to prove that the company was honest, such as presenting proof of payments. The firm also had a special team, based in Valencia, and tasked to clear up any doubts brought against them. 

Collaborating with major outlets such as Forbes may have helped additionally. Reportedly, Juicy Fields paid a Forbes contributor for the publication of an article, which now appears to have been removed by the publication's editorial team. Nevertheless, Forbes is not responsible for the opinions expressed by its contributors. 

The scam becomes more evident after some users would detect movements of tens of millions of euros in cryptocurrencies on the blockchain. That is as the platform's influx of users starts to go down this summer. 

A YouTuber expert in cryptocurrencies and metaverse, who goes by the name Emilio, reportedly managed to track some of the suspicious money movement in real-time. The video is available to watch on the Crypto Era channel. The withdrawals were tracked on a blockchain address associated with the Juicy Fields income and outflow wallet. According to the YouTuber, the wallet held about $105 million on the afternoon of July 14, and is the one wallet that keeps the most of Juicy Fields' digital funds.

El País Financiero was able to verify the address in Etherscan and said the amounts coincide with those shown on the YouTube stream. The publisher says that this account, now with less than 89 million dollars on it and linked to Juicy Fields, basically confirms this is an unfolding exit scam in question. El País Financiero also suggests checking out more withdrawals executed to other wallets on this link. The subdivisions of large amounts transferred to other wallets indicate an attempt to lose track of where those funds are going.

In other words, Juicy Fields is currently very possibly engaged in what is known as "Blending" or "Mixing", an activity where it executes thousands of seemingly random transactions to make it impossible to keep track of the funds. And once spread across multiple portfolios and mixed with other sums, the funds would fall into certain exchanges from where they could be withdrawn into national currencies. 


This story is developing. More is to follow...

Stephen Andrews