Deceptive Tactics Unmasked in Three Lawsuits Against Pot Entrepreneur Case Mandel
LAS VEGAS, March 05, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — A trio of lawsuits alleging a scheme to defraud $1.2 million in still-unrepaid loans is shining a light on the dark side of the burgeoning legal marijuana industry. Lenders allege that a high-profile California-based marijuana company and its key executive used “make-believe projections” – inflated by 2,000% – to intentionally deceive them about the company’s true financial picture and then pocketed the money with no intention of ever repaying the debt.
A federal lawsuit filed this week in Nevada and lawsuits recently filed in Nevada and California state courts reveal the depths that some seemingly respectable operators will go to deceive supposed partners, investors, and lenders in order to enrich themselves. The litigation targets purported cannabis entrepreneur Case Mandel and businesses he operated under the name Cannadips, accusing Mandel of obtaining $1.2 million through fraud, misrepresentation, breach of contract, and unjust enrichment. The plaintiffs – Nevada-based Solace Holdings LLLP and Aether Gardens, and Telloni Holdings Limited, formed in the British Virgin Islands and located in London – say Mandel induced them to loan him more than $1.2 million to fund his cannabidiol (CBD) business by inflating business numbers by over 2,000%.
Mandel, who has reached nouveau-celebrity status in some quarters of the legal marijuana trade through ongoing promotion of himself and Cannadips to industry journals, is portrayed in the lawsuits as the alleged mastermind of a deceptive scheme to illegally entice loans and investments with intentionally misleading documents and tactics.
“Mandel made a series of blatantly false representations, including through the use of make-believe projections, to lure in Solace and its affiliates into deals Mandel never intended to fulfill,” the federal complaint states. After committing to use some of the borrowed funds for marketing, the lawsuit alleges, he “instead used the money to fund Mandel’s lifestyle. After nearly two years, Solace never received what it bargained for as a result of Defendants’ failure to carry out their contractually required marketing activities.”
The state court lawsuits say Mandel was “on a desperate pursuit to raise money at all costs” when he initiated his fraud in July 2018. First Mandel borrowed $500,000, and then increased the debt to $1 million in 2019. Then, claiming he needed more money for marketing so he could generate enough revenue to pay back the large loan, Mandel borrowed another $200,000. He has not paid back any of the borrowed funds, the lawsuits allege.
Industry expert Christian Bax, who served as the State of Florida’s first Director of the Office of Medical Marijuana Use, issued a warning to legitimate businesspeople to beware of shady operators in the quickly evolving legal marijuana industry.
“The hemp and CBD markets are booming right now, but they are still fairly new. Despite the progress we’ve seen, the industry is still being undercut by spurious business people looking to take advantage of investors looking to invest in cannabis,” said Bax, president of Bax and Associates. “There are so many entrepreneurs doing the right thing in hemp and CBD, but, unfortunately, investors these days have to be vigilant against misrepresentation, or worse, outright fraud.”
The first in the series of lawsuits was filed in the district court of Clark County, Nevada, against Mandel and Trinidad Consulting, LLC, which he owns. The second case was filed in Humboldt County, California, against Mandel, Trinidad Consulting, and Trinidad Management, LLC, doing business as Cannadips. The federal lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for Nevada, targeting the same defendants as the California lawsuit.
Here’s an old Interview with Mandel in Tobacco Business dated. 15 January 2018
Tobacco Business: What product(s) will you be featuring at TPE 2018? What differentiates them in the market?
Case Mandel: We are featuring our new line, Cannadips CBD. This is the first CBD snus product to be brought to the market, and we are incredibly excited. It is 100 percent THC-free and has a patent-pending, water-soluble CBD that has very high bioavailability and allows for CBD to be orally assimilated.
Why are you going to TPE? What do you hope to accomplish there?
We are going to TPE so we can let the industry know about CBD and our exciting new array of products. Being a format that is similar to smokeless tobacco, we feel that our lineup will be a perfect fit for store owners nationwide. Our hope is to establish buzz within the industry and help craft and influence the market’s understanding of CBD and Cannadips.
What have you done to prepare for a successful show?
We have been working hard on our national CBD lineup. We should have samples of the national rebrand by the TPE date. We look forward to giving away thousands of samples and providing as much information as possible on our brand-new delivery system.
What are your goals for 2018?
This is a huge year for us. Our goal is to get our national brand in not only specialty tobacco stores, but also the convenience store space. We would absolutely love to begin spreading the benefits of CBD to everyone in the country. We get emailed daily from veterans in every state and other hardworking Americans, and we can’t wait to be able to provide them with the utility of Cannadips.
What keeps you up at night?
Managing the 30 plates spinning at every given moment. Not only do we have an amazing opportunity in our home state of California, but we have national and international prospects. There is so much opportunity and only so much Cliff, my co-founder, and I can do. We are creating strategic partnerships and trying to make the biggest footprint possible.
This story first appeared in the January/February 2018 issue of Tobacco Business magazine.