French Police Bust High-End Counterfeited Wine
According to the French police, they have uncovered a huge scam involving high-end, vintage bottles of wine. The police discovered that bottles of poor quality wine were being mislabeled on purpose and sold as Romanee-Conti, which one of the world's most expensive wines. Since a bottle of the fine Burgundy could cost up to $12,000, the police estimated that the scammers from Italy were able to net around 2.7 million dollars. The two Italian wine merchants have since been arrested while others are still people questioned.
"Other suspects are being sought so that we can present this entire counterfeiting network in evidence," prosecutor Marie-Christine Tarrare said according to BBC News.
The investigation started after the vineyard that produces the wine reported concerns regarding fake bottles last year. Romanee-Conti is made in a small estate of just four acres. The French police looked into six European countries, which include England and Switzerland, before identifying the father-and-son duo from Italy as the fraudsters. The investigation has also found ties to Russia, Belize and Hong Kong. Investigators are aware that fake bottles of wine often end up in China, where fine wine consumption, particularly French wine, is a growing trend. Furthermore, expensive wines are more likely to be counterfeited.
The police believe that the culprits have sold around 400 counterfeit bottles with potentially more still on the market. The police stated that the counterfeit job was done extremely well. When the fake bottles are placed next to the real product, it is hard to see any differences. On the fake bottles, the labels appeared to have been treated with wax in order to age the look. The police were only able to differentiate the fake bottles from the real ones through lab analyses.
Even though France has asked for the extradition of the two Italians, several suspects are still being arrested and questioned.