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Fraudster sentenced over $13m wine investment scam in US

A US judge has sentenced a British man to three years of probation and ordered him to pay more than $200,000 for his role in a fraudulent wine and whisky investment scheme that targeted elderly people.

UK national Casey Alexander, 27, was sentenced to three years of probation by a US court in Ohio for his role in the wine investment scam, after earlier pleading guilty to a charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

US district judge Solomon Oliver also ordered Alexander, from London in England, to pay $202,195.58 in restitution to victims, for his role in the scheme. 

More than 150 victims across the US collectively invested more than $13m in the wine and whisk(e)y fraud scheme, based on what FBI investigators have so far discovered, said the US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio.

Citing court documents, it said Alexander and others took part in a cold-calling scheme that targeted elderly investors.

‘They used aggressive and deceptive tactics, and promised large returns if the victims participated in wine and whiskey investments,’ said the Attorney’s office. 

‘They told victims that they could buy a portfolio of fine wines and whiskeys on their behalf, and then hold the purchase in a bonded warehouse located in Europe until sold for a profit.’

Victims were convinced to wire funds to one or more suspect companies, and were also encouraged to make further investments in order to secure bigger returns, the Attorney’s office said. 

Suspicions were partly triggered by a victim’s son contacting Highland Heights Police Department to say that his parent appeared to have been defrauded out of more than $300,000 over an 18-month period.

After that complaint in 2020, the police department discovered similar complaints about a possible wine investment scam in other areas of the US, the Attorney’s office said.

It said the case was investigated and prosecuted under the Elder Justice Initiative Program, supporting efforts to combat abuse, fraud and neglect, and added that Alexander’s sentencing came during Elder Abuse Awareness Month.

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