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Essex wine fraudsters are jailed for conning £1m from investors as targeted wine fraud continues to boom

On 5th April a gang of fraudsters were jailed for a total of 18 years for conning nearly £1m out of investors, the majority of whom were elderly and vulnerable.

Adam Edwards, Barry Warner, Christopher Brummit, Tarik Drissi and James Brooks we found guilty of operating 3 fake companies - Mayfair Worldwide Trading Ltd, Commodex Global Limited and Winchester Associates Ltd - between from 2013 to 2015. The companies were made to look like established high-end Mayfair vintners but in reality they crooked telesales operations being run from an industrial estate near Stanstead airport.

The gang had a list of ‘suckers’ who they’d railroad into selling them their very valuable wine holdings using extremely unpleasant and aggressive sales techniques. If they agreed to sell, the victims were told the fee would be reinvested in commodities like graphene, diamonds or gold.

However the truth was the wine was actually sold on to legitimate dealers and the proceeds of those sales were pocketed by the fraudsters while victims were told there had been “problems” with the markets they’d invested in which really meant they’d never see their money.

Worryingly this just seems to be the latest in a growing number of wine scams being run in the UK.

In January Action Fraud (a joint venture between the City of London Police and the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau) issued warnings about one particular type of wine investment fraud, a model they’ve seen escalate between June 2018 and December 2018.

This scam is called a ‘recovery fraud’ and involves targeting people who had been tricked by scammers 4 to 6 years before. The victims are contacted and told by the ‘dealer’ at the end of the phone that they would be willing to sell their collections on the condition the owner is willing to make a series of payments to cover the ‘shipping’ or ‘insurance’ into a third party bank account.

Action Fraud believes it’s the fact the person contacting them has their contact details and the details of their previous transaction that makes this type of fraudster appear more credible. The truth is that the information is likely to have been obtained illegally by hacking records from wine companies that have gone into liquidation or even from collating the details of the previous fraud from press outlets who had reported the crimes.

As one of the few law firms who specialise in recovering the monies clients have lost as a result of wine fraud we would strongly recommend you follow the following 4 rules should you be contacted out of the blue by someone you don’t know who is trying to sell you any type of investment opportunity:

  1. If you feel the caller is using high-pressure sales techniques, be on your guard and even try to end the call. Genuine wine investment houses don’t use aggressive sales techniques or push for a close there and then.

  1. Always ask for the company’s full details (including their company registration number and their registered address) so you can confirm their credentials and their history for yourself and, of course, uncover any nasty secrets they – or their directors – may be hiding.

  1. Never give out any personal or financial details on a cold call or in response to an unsolicited email. However convincing they sound, just knowing your details doesn’t make them genuine. If you can, ask for a face-to-face meeting, preferably at their registered office.

  1. Never make any type of payment on a first call and if you are being pushed to sign any type of contract on a first call, ask for a length of time you are comfortable with during which you can review the terms with a friend, a member of your family or – better still – a solicitor who understands how to spot a fraud before it’s too late.

If you have been the victim of an art fraud or any other type of art or luxury goods fraud or feel you would like to discuss an opportunity that you have been presented with before making a commitment, please call us today on 020 7792 5649 or email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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