Wall Street regulators filed civil fraud charges against a company and four people allegedly caught up in a scheme to bilk investors out of nearly a million dollars through a company purported to be a Massachusetts medical cannabis venture.
The Securities and Exchange Commission charged that the head of the operation raised $550,000 from investors between 2011 and 2012 through a Denver company, Lionshare Ventures, the Boston Globe reported. The man used the money for unauthorized expenses like groceries and pet care, the SEC said.
He also allegedly used the money to take control of a firm called Cannabiz Mobile Inc., a penny stock, and between 2012 and 2015 the four individuals sold shares of the company – touted as a medical cannabis company – and filed false statements with the SEC.
Cannabiz investors eventually lost nearly $1 million, according to the charges, the Globe reported.
The charges could serve as a warning to potential cannabis industry investors, given that the vast majority of public marijuana companies trade on over-the-counter market or as penny stocks, like Cannabiz.
The allegations also indicate that regulators are keeping an eye on public marijuana companies, and that the companies will probably be held to the same – if not higher – standards than other publicly traded firms.