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Two more fake alcohol rings busted in China

China recently uncovered two more fake alcohol rings in two separate provinces ahead of Chinese New Year holiday in late January when consumers tend to stock up wine and spirits for the traditional Chinese festival.  

Bottles of fake wine are destroyed in Nanning. Credit: Reuters
Bottles of fake wine are destroyed in Nanning. Credit: Reuters

In China’s eastern Anhui province, police busted a ring operating a sophisticated distribution network of fake wines and spirits worth about RMB 30 million (US$4.3 million).

“The wines we confiscated at the workshop were only worth about RMB 500,000, and that’s just a tip of the iceberg. These wines were later sold to Jiangsu, Anhui and Hubei provinces. The total value involved in this case is RMB 30 million,” a police officer on the case told a local newspaper in Anhui.

The police said about 150 cases of fake domestic spirits were spotted on the scene including China’s famous rice liquor ‘Maotai’. A bottle of baijiu from Maotai’s premium range can sell for more than a million RMB per bottle.  

In another case in Guangdong, police busted a workshop in Zengcheng city near Guangzhou. The suspects in the case were refilling empty bottles with cheap bulk wines and selling them off as expensive wines, with convincing labels and capsules from famous wine brands. The bottles in question were worth up to RMB 3,000 (about US$431), according to the police in Zengcheng. However, they did not disclose the wine brands the fraudsters were faking.

The police said more than 300 bottles of fake wines were discovered at the workshop, operating from a rented apartment hidden inside a residential area. Dozens of bottles of high-end spirits and baijiu were also spotted inside the workshop.

Guangdong province, the neighbouring region to Hong Kong, has seen no shortage of fake wine and spirits workshops. As reported by dbHK this November, a multi-million yuan fake alcohol ring was busted in Foshan. The province is also a drop-off point for parallel goods smuggled from tax-free Hong Kong to Mainland China including baby formulas, iPhones and fine wines.

Anti-fraud expert Maureen Downey told db that fake wines were prevalent in the secondary market, particularly in Asia.

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