Action Fraud working alongside the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, has stated that it has seen an increase in reports of this nature over the past six months. Former victims of wine fraud, who were tricked by scammers between four and six years ago, are now being targeted again by individuals claiming that they can resell their wines in return for an insurance or shipping fee. Between 1 June 2018 and 31 December 2018, there were 22 reports made to Action Fraud, with victims losing a total of £97,914. Victims were typically aged between 46 and 86 years old, and sent on average around £2,000 to a third party account via a bank transfer, paid in various instalments to accounts in different names over a period of one to four months.
The fraudsters appear reliable and legitimate as they already have the personal details, including the name, address and bank account of their victims, as well as having information about the wine company they previously invested in. Action Fraud state that fraudsters are obtaining information about liquidated wine companies and their directors from forums and online information released to the press. None of the people targeted have been able to recover their initial payment, while some have lost more money after paying an advance recovery fee. This type of fraud is known as recovery fraud.
Pauline Smith, director of Action Fraud said: “The fact that fraudsters are taking advantage of previous victims of fraud is despicable. If you are contacted by an individual who knows a lot about the money you lost, but they want a fee first, it is vital that you stop all correspondence immediately. If you think you have been a victim of fraud, report it to us and your bank immediately.”
Action Fraud’s recommends the following to protect yourself from this type of fraud:
Never reveal any personal or financial details as a result of an unsolicited call, email or text. Even if someone knows your basic details ( such as your name and contact details), it doesn’t mean they are genuine.
Don’t immediately agree to any offer that involves an advance payment or having to sign a contract on the spot. Always speak with a friend or family member first.
Always check the credentials of any financial company on the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) website, they should be on the register. Contact the preferred company directly and reject any offers made through unsolicited communications.
If you have been affected by this, or any other scam, report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040, or by using their online reporting tool.