Scams come in all shapes and sizes but a really corking one that has recently emerged is the “wine investment fraud”.

Scams come in all shapes and sizes but a really corking one that has recently emerged is the “wine investment fraud”.

That’s the warning from corporate recovery specialists and business advisors Quantuma.

Partner Mike Wright, who joined the firm this year, has more than 20 years’ experience in risk management, corporate security and fraud investigations.

He also has considerable experience with wine investments.

He said: “With interest rates on savings still very low, it is all too tempting to seek out an investment that promises much higher returns.

“Clever fraudsters can play on this by offering spectacular returns on investments such as wine, fine art, and several other asset categories carefully chosen to appeal to high net worth individuals, who may consider themselves sophisticated investors.

“But, unfortunately, one of the oldest clichés in financial services applies to many of the schemes or scams out there – if it seems too good to be true, it usually is.”

His comments follow the jailing of two men at the end of a trial at St Albans Crown Court, Hertfordshire, for running what appeared to their clients and their staff members as two legitimate wine investment companies.

However, the court was told, Clarex Wines and Permas were both covers for an extensive wine investment fraud.

Abu Hanifa Bin Khalek of Hoddeston was jailed for two years seven months, and Onur Kemal Aslan of Enfield received a sentence of six year six months. Both had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud.

Mike Wright commented: “Police had to unfurl a complicated case involving several victims who, together, lost a total of £450,000.

“Often such fraudsters target the old and vulnerable, but they also target those they know can afford to invest in asset classes such as wine.

“There is indeed a thriving market for investment in fine wines, but you need a certain amount of knowledge, an honest broker and to recognise that you may not achieve the returns promised.

“Fraudsters plan their deception carefully and cover their tracks well.”

In 2015, Quantuma was involved in the untangling of UK firm APW Asset Management Ltd, which sold wines for investment and capital growth using high pressure sales tactics. The business was wound up in the High Court in Manchester on 25 March 2015.

An investigation by the Insolvency Service had found that the company made “baseless claims that misled investors.” They made a “string of patently false claims as to the soundness both of the potential investment returns and of how wine sales would be handled”.

The company had claimed to handle £25 million worth of fine wine for clients.

Mike Wright said there was plenty of advice available.

“You can get additional advice on wine fraud or an understanding of correct wine prices from websites such as: www.winefraud.com, www.winesearcher.com; www.decanter.com;  or www.actionfraud.police.uk

“If in doubt, you can also contact reputable wine merchants such as Lay & Wheeler (www.laywheeler.com) or Berry Brothers & Rudd ( www.bbr.com ),” he said.

Mr Wright heads up Quantuma’s fraud investigation service which include enterprise risk management, investigations, forensic accounting and digital forensics.

Ends (512 words)

For further information, please contact:

Marie Wadeson, Head of Marketing,

Quantuma LLP, Vernon House, 23 Sicilian Avenue, London, WC1A 2QS

Tel: 07464 545678

Or

Andy Skinner, Managing Director, ASAP PR – 07990 978257

www.quantuma.com

@Quantuma1

Notes to Editors

Quantuma LLP is a leading corporate recovery and business advisory practice delivering partner-led solutions to businesses and individuals facing financial distress with offices in London, Southampton, Marlow, Watford, Brighton, Bristol, Manchester and Birmingham.