Fake big-brand wine on the rise
It has been revealed that as many as one in five bottles of wine stocked in independent corner shops in England could be fake, following the release of information on police raids to tackle the organised crime.
The Daily Mail reports that the biggest household labels are the main targets for fraudsters who fake labels on sub-standard wine before selling on to corner shop owners. They in turn sell on to the customer at huge mark-ups.
Tesco is currently charging £29.94 for a half-case of big-brand wine — an offer equivalent to £4.99 each.
Officers say a fake bottle would typically be sold to a corner shop for as little as £2, allowing a 150% mark-up — attractive to small shop owners who don’t make much on highly-taxed alcohol.
The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) are working alongside Interpol in a cross-border operation dubbed Opson IV in a move designed to disrupt the supply networks for counterfeiters.
Last month a conference hosted by the IPO heard that forged alcohol now accounts for 73% of all UK Trading Standards investigations, up from 51% four years ago. An IPO spokeswoman said: ‘If a deal is too good to be true, it normally is.’
And police raids have shown that the problem is on the rise.
In Edgware, North London, it is reported that one store alone was caught with 249 bottles of fake big-brand wine. In Staffordshire, trading standards checked 415 off-licences, and at 75 of them – almost 20 per cent – found counterfeit alcohol goods to a total retail value of £30,000.
Meanwhile, investigators from Nottinghamshire County Council confiscated 34 bottles of forged wine from a Mansfield shop after a customer noted it was called ‘Shardonnay’ – rather than Chardonnay – on the label.
HMRC said a register of alcohol wholesalers would be set up by 2017 to “make it considerably more difficult for criminals to penetrate supply chains.”