For the first time ever the UK has a national fraud reporting and advice service.
The Action Fraud complaints line – both phone and online – was launched on 1 February by the National Fraud Authority, which was set up in October 2008.
The launch of Action Fraud is well-timed for the 2009 Bordeaux en primeur campaign.
It is already clear that some recently-formed companies are offering 2009 Lafite for up to £12,000 a case, well before the château has released the price.
Initially the Action Fraud service was launched in north-west England and the Midlands. It is now being rolled out across England and Wales. For the moment it does not cover frauds perpetrated in Scotland.
Translation services will be provided for non-English speakers and people outside the UK.
Hitherto the reporting of fraud has been piecemeal, which has meant that the UK police forces have been unable to build up a clear picture of the extent of the problem.
Both the Metropolitan and City of London police are currently investigating wine investment fraud.
Action Fraud: 03000 123 2040, or online at www.actionfraud.org.uk
Written by Jim Budd