Hundreds of people across the U.S.—mostly seniors—were defrauded out of more than $13 million in an elaborate scheme that promised big returns on wine and whiskey investments, federal authorities said.
MSN’s recent article entitled “Wine and whiskey scam run out of U.K. defrauded elderly U.S. investors out of millions, officials say” reports that the allegations were detailed in an affidavit following the arrest of Casey Alexander, a British citizen, on June 14, 2022. He faces charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, according to court documents filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio.
Alexander and others ran the ploy from the United Kingdom and allegedly used three businesses — Charles Winn, LLC; Windsor Jones, LLC; and Vintage Whisky Casks — in the scheme. The FBI said the defendants would cold call people throughout the U.S. and convince them to invest in rare dessert wines that would increase in value over time.
“Using aggressive and deceptive tactics promising large returns on wine and whiskey investments, Defendants were able to convince victims to wire funds or make checks out to the Suspect Companies to invest in purported wine or whiskey,” the affidavit states.
“After the initial investment with the Suspect Companies, the Defendants kept in contact with the victims via email and telecommunications convincing them to keep investing with the Suspect Companies by promising even larger returns on their initial investments.”
None of the victims ever received his or her return, the FBI said.
One senior victim, an 89-year-old man from Ohio, was defrauded out of more than $300,000 over an 18-month period, prosecutors say. He mailed checks to Charles Winn, LLC and sent wire transfers when directed to by the defendants. The man’s son, who has power of attorney, contacted the police after learning that his father had been scammed.
The victims were told that the companies “could identify and purchase a portfolio of fine wines and or whiskeys on behalf of investors,” which would be held in a warehouse in the U.K. and sold for profit.
Alexander allegedly cold-called a victim in 2020 and convinced him to buy about $22,000 worth of whiskey from Vintage Whisky Casks. After an in-person meeting with Alexander, the victim mailed a check for $100,000 to buy more whiskey. However, the victim was contacted by the FBI and was able to prevent the check from being cashed.
The scheme was thwarted with the help of an inside witness. The FBI said they were able to prevent nearly $470,000 from being deposited into accounts linked to the companies. They’ve identified more than 150 victims in the U.S. and have been able to return about $250,000 of the $13 million invested by the victims.
Reference: MSN (June 22, 2022) “Wine and whiskey scam run out of U.K. defrauded elderly U.S. investors out of millions, officials say”