Bulletin | Scamming Activities Targeting Marijuana Licensees | March 26, 2021
This bulletin applies to licensed Marijuana Establishments and Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers (“licensees”). This notice is to inform licensees about potential scams and fraud.
The Cannabis Control Commission (“Commission”) has received reports of individuals (“scammers”) contacting licensees in Massachusetts and impersonating owners, managers, or executives by phone or text message. In these calls or texts, the scammers disclose pertinent information about licensed businesses to gain agents’ trust. The scammers may relay a message regarding a pending inspection (e.g. by the Commission, a fire department, etc.). To prepare for the inspection, the scammers request photos of the licensees’ bank deposits, secure storage areas, and safety equipment. Additionally, the scammers request agents to deliver cash from their employer to a location off-premises, or deposit funds to a cryptocurrency account.
Reports of intended scams or fraud have been reported in other jurisdictions outside Massachusetts, all sharing many of these same attributes.
As a result of these incidents, licensees may consider encouraging agent awareness1 of how intended scams or fraud are executed—and how to avoid them—including but not limited to:
- Verifying the originator of the call or text directly with the manager or owner before taking any action;
- Resisting the temptation to act immediately as scammers may threaten staff with the loss of position or title;
- Blocking unwanted calls and text messages; and
- Being aware of the way in which scammers demand a payment through cash drop-offs at non-bank locations, wiring funds to cryptocurrency accounts, or loading money onto gift
Incidents such as scams must be reported to the Commission within twenty-four (24) hours of the occurrence, per regulations 935 CMR 500.110(9) and/or 935 CMR 501.110(9). Failure to adequately abide by the regulations may result in administrative or enforcement action.
Questions regarding this notice may be directed to Inspections@CCCMass.com.
1 Federal Trade Commission, “How to Avoid a Scam,” November 2020 <https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/how-avoid-scam>.
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