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UK: Police, WSTA issue wine fraud warning

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Fraudsters posing as wine importers in the UK have cost the sector GBP600,000 (US$944,000) in lost goods over the past five months, according to the Wine & Spirit Trade Association (WSTA).

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The trade body has joined with police to warn wine producers and merchants of the problem. According to WSTA figures, producers exporting to the UK have collectively lost GBP600,000-worth of goods in the past five months.

It is the first time that the association has sought to quantify the extent of fraud in the UK wine sector, having set up a specific policy unit to tackle the issue in May this year. It said that criminals have been posing as legitimate importers, sometimes after having stolen a particular merchant's identity. Once the wines have been shipped, the bogus importers disappear without paying.

"It's vital producers are aware of the pitfalls and take steps to guard against this form of fraud," said the WSTA's CEO, Jeremy Beadles. "The feedback to the WSTA's Fraud Prevention Unit, launched in May this year, shows that criminals targeting wine producers are increasingly using identity theft as a means of securing goods without paying for them."


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