How Pingus took on the counterfeiters
Following the news that Spanish police have dismantled a counterfeiting ring, it has been revealed that the bust was the result of a year-long investigation by the owner of Pingus, Peter Sisseck.
Earlier this month Spain’s Civil Guard arrested four men and charged a further four with a range of charges including fraud and money laundering.
The gang was centred on a restaurant in the city of La Coruña in Galicia and had been operating since about 2014, counterfeiting fine wines from Pingus and Vega Sicilia, taking wines costing €19 a bottle and then repackaging them in order to sell them on for as much as €1,900 apiece.
The police were alerted to the case when Pingus raised the alarm but speaking to the drinks business, Peter Sisseck revealed that he had spent a year beforehand gathering evidence to present to the authorities.
He explained that it all began when a client of his Danish importer said he’d acquired a bottle in Belgium that he thought was fake.
Sisseck agreed it was “dodgy” and after a bit of digging traced it to a restaurant in La Coruña.
This on its own might have been little more than a one-off mistake but Sisseck then added he remembered the previous year his cork supplier had called him to query an order of Pingus-marked corks that had been placed by a restaurant in – La Coruña.
“I thought that was interesting,” said Sisseck who probed further with the help of a private investigator.
He continued: “For more than a year had our own investigation to get to the bottom of it. Built a case and gathered all the evidence then went to police and a judge.”
The police then began their own investigation and found the network spread to Madrid and Malaga as well in a fraud that was worth in excess of €1 million.
Sisseck added he had been keen to gather evidence himself because his fear was that by simply reporting it, it would not be treated with much seriousness or urgency.
When presented with a body of evidence to work with however, “they realised there was something to it.”
Furthermore, having been able to dismantle a serious counterfeiting operation Sisseck hoped that it, “might help in future make the police understand it’s a serious case.”
He added that this was the biggest fraud case involving Pingus he had come across so far although there had been small scale counterfeiting in the past that he had managed to halt.
It was a matter he said he was well aware of and remained vigilant of.
‘We do all we can in order to avoid it. We’re always aware if funny stuff is sold somewhere. Most of these wines are sold through dodgy ways, especially private sales and so on so it’s quite difficult to get access to it.
“We have released a statement advising people not to buy from places they don’t know.”