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03.2011

Massachusetts Beverage Business

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archivedOnWineReport

A $1O MILLION SCAM DOWN UNDER

From floods to fires to a glut of grapes in a down economy, Australia has seen its share of bad times these last few years. Now a number of wineries have found themselves the victim of a colossal con job: a bottled wine scam that has soared past the $1O million mark. Leading Australian wineries are among dozens of suppliers stung in a monstrous scam, with police uncovering a “mother load” of fraudulently-obtained wine. After conducting several raids in late January, police swooped in on a warehouse in Silverwater, reportedly finding $5 million in wine. Police said at least 6O Australian companies had been caught in the sting. Warehouses in Fairfield, Wetherill Park, Alexandria, and Condell Park were also raided. World Wide Trading Pty Ltd. received large quantities of wine from multiple suppliers on invoices that were not paid, or were paid with bad checks. When a wine supplier tipped off police because his check bounced, investigators visited the trading company’s headquarters in Daniel Street, Wetherill Park, and found the premises abandoned. Acting Superintendent Steve Thomas said Silverwater was the “most significant” premises found in the alleged scam, with the Egerton Street site believed to be the thieves’ primary stock house for the goods. Prominent Hunter Valley wine company Drayton’s Family Wines was among the businesses which supplied pallets of wine to the World Wide Trading company but was not paid. Police said wineries from the NSW Hunter Valley, Margaret River, Barossa Valley, and the Yarra Valley had been stung in the scam. Drayton’s began dealing with the import and export company about five weeks ago, and in that time supplied them with 36 pallets of wine – more than 23OO dozen bottles. Investigations into identifying and arresting the alleged bulk wine scammers are continuing.

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