Mark Roy Anderson of Beverly Hills raised $9 million over four years from investors in his hemp farm in suburban Bakersfield, but the FBI says there’s a problem: The farm doesn’t exist.
Anderson, investors discovered, was a convicted fraudster who began defrauding people at least three decades ago. He started his purported hemp business shortly after being released from federal prison in Texas in May 2019, where he served more than 11 years for an investment scam. oil, the federal government 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 fake hemp business through a company he called Harvest Farm Group.
Anderson, 68, used some of the money to buy a $1.3 million gated mansion surrounded by citrus groves in Ojai, according to the FBI. He funneled another $2.3 million into personal spending, including more than $650,000 on classic and luxury cars, $13,000 on charter flights and $142,000 on merchandise. from Williams-Sonoma, Ferragamo, Crate & Barrel and other retailers, the FBI alleges in a criminal complaint.
Anderson, who was arrested on May 9 and has been in prison since, could not be contacted. His attorney, Brett A. Greenfield, did not respond to a request for comment.
Anderson used to be a lawyer in Nevada, but his criminal record got him disenfranchised in 1993. His indictment was extensive and some of his crimes foreshadowed the scam. alleged hemp island.
In 1988, Anderson asked a victim to pay him $400,000 to buy a Beverly Hills office building that he falsely claimed he owned, prosecutors said. He has another person paying $175,000 for a building in La Jolla that he doesn’t own. For those and related charges, he pleaded guilty to grand theft and other charges and was sentenced to four years in state prison.
Also in the 1980s, Anderson ran a Ponzi scheme to defraud investors into purported restoration of historic buildings across the country. He was sentenced up to seven years in prison.
According to prosecutors, he turned to oil investment fraud, costing victims more than $9 million. After pleading guilty to federal charges of fraud and money laundering, Anderson sent the judge a handwritten letter in May 2012 saying he was “incompetent and incompetent at handling money”.
Anderson writes: “Twenty years ago, I went to prison for fraud. “It was a horrible experience. I lost my marriage, all my possessions. It destroyed my self-esteem. When I went out, I was terrified to come back.
He started drinking heavily around the time he hatched the oil scam, which “made matters worse,” Anderson wrote. “I will pray at night so as not to wake up.”
Anderson, then in his 50s, told the judge he feared he would die in prison. “I am damaged and broken,” he wrote. “There is nothing left of me. My productive life is over.” He calls himself “a loser, a cheater, and a shame.”
His brother, Stan Anderson, sent the judge a letter saying that Mark had served on the business advisory board of the National Republican Congressional Committee. He attached a signed photo of former President George W. Bush thanking Mark Roy Anderson for supporting the Republican National Committee.
After serving a sentence of about seven years, Anderson was released from prison under the older offenders pilot project and was placed under house arrest in Beverly Hills for 18 months. In November 2020, he began a three-year supervised release. A condition of his probation is that he cannot participate in investment projects.
But by then, his hemp investment project was well underway, according to an arrest complaint filed by FBI agent Richard T. Higgins. Victims told the FBI that Anderson claimed he was growing hemp on his farm in Kern County to convert into medical-grade cannabis products, Higgins wrote.
Two of the investors ended up hiring a private investigator. They found that the purported hemp farm was actually a vineyard that Anderson didn’t own, though he assured him he had completed three successful harvests that were “incredibly profitable,” Higgins said.
According to Higgins, the photos of the harvest turned out to be archived images downloaded from the internet.
An attorney for one of the investors asked Anderson to confirm that he has no criminal record and that it is not Mark Roy Anderson who went to prison for fraud. Anderson, Higgins said, assured the attorney that the scammer was someone else.