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Three arrested after €95k Pétrus scam

Three alleged fraudsters have been arrested after a wine merchant sold 20 bottles of Pétrus which were bought using fake bank notes. 

The scam happened in February when a man got in contact with a Parisian wine merchant, claiming to work with a Russian couple who wanted to spend the weekend in the city. They said the couple wanted to buy bottles of Pétrus from the 2000 vintage, which is considered one of the best, and often sells for at least €4000-5000.

According to Le Parisien, the man appeared to be a connoisseur, with the merchant impressed because he talked about the 2000 vintage which isn’t “any old wine”.

The so-called connoisseur wanted 12 bottles of the vintage, but then increased the order to 18, alongside two additional bottles of Champagne. Using his network, the wine merchant bought the bottles, and hoped that he would make a good profit from the wine.

The exchange of the bottles and cash were done in a bistro in the city, where the merchant met the couple. But he quickly realised the cash was fake, but by the time he ran after the trolley which his bottles had been wheeled away on, it was too late.

The news comes as wine merchants and sellers of luxury goods across Europe are being warned about making sales to cash buyers. Due to tax avoidance, it is believed that such sales are on the rise, as well as the potential for large-scale profits from such purchases.

It also comes as bottles of rare, French fine wines have increasingly reached high four and five figure sums at auction.

According to the latest set of data from Liv-ex, Pétrus, has seen its value rise by 452.2% since the inception of its index in January 2003. Despite a few dips and troughs, the wine’s price has steadily increased throughout the years and most vintages now retail for several thousand pounds.

A trial is due to take place next month for the alleged fraudsters.

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