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UK: Police uncover million-pound wine investment scam

London police have arrested three people suspected of conning potential fine wine investors out of at least £1 million.

City of London Police arrested three men on 3 August suspected of operating a ‘boiler room’ wine investment scam.

It is believed that investors, many of them elderly, have collectively lost more than £1 million in the scam, which the men were accused of running from a base on Fleet Street, central London.

Police said that victims were cold called by salespeople offering them an opportunity to invest in fine wine and promising returns of between eight and 40%.

If proven, it is the latest in a series of fine wine investment scams uncovered in the UK in recent years.

Potential investors were told to buy extra wine, because buyers were already in place for them to sell on to, police said.

It was not clear whether all three men arrested have been formally charged. A police spokesperson declined to comment further on the case when contacted by Decanter.com on 10 August.

‘Boiler room’ is a term used to describe an outbound call centre selling investments over the phone, usually employing dishonest techniques.

‘Boiler rooms continue to be a major threat to individuals in this country and statistics show that those who are over 60 are particularly vulnerable to this type of crime,’ said Andrew Thompson, City of London Police detective inspector.

‘Fraudsters will do everything they can to manipulate potential victims and convince them that they are making genuine investments.’

The investigation into the case was launched after Action Fraud, the national fraud and cyber reporting service, received complaints from the victims.

So far, 39 victims have contacted Action Fraud. Their combined, estimated losses total over £1 million.

The City of London Police said that it has been contacting victims of the bogus company.

Editing by Chris Mercer

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