Wine scams and advance fee frauds Bordeaux and EFW

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2015-02-10

It’s become apparent over the last few weeks and months that consumers who’ve already been taken advantage of by companies like European Fine Wines (EFW) are being targeted yet again with advance fee frauds and ‘White Knight’ scams.

What’s more, the cold-callers approaching those people who had previously bought from EFW seem to know an awful lot about their prior purchases. We can only presume that the EFW customer base was filched and passed around the London and Bromley wine underworld?

One of our members was approached recently by Rothstein Capital & Partners, who purported to be working in partnership with the receivers of EFW to assist former clients in recovering losses.

On that basis they offered to find buyers for her stock. The prices quoted were well ahead of market levels, for example £14k for her case of 2003 Latour (actual market price £6,500).

They then advised that the case of Latour 2003 she had received in 2013 had been misallocated, and that 'her' case was still held at the Chateau. She was told that she could not sell the case of Latour in her possession, as it did not bear her ‘log number’. She was told that her case needed to be exchanged for the correct case before they could proceed to sell it, and offered to arrange shipping of the 'correct' case from Bordeaux, provided she cover the insurance costs associated with shipping, which would cost £1,000 up front.

As reported in Jim Budd’s excellent resource on wine fraud, Investdrinks Blog, The liquidator, Nedim Ailyan of Abbott Fielding Limited, was understandably scathing of this advance fee fraud and according to Jim Budd of Investdrinks has reported Rothstein Capital to the police.

This isn't an isolated instance reported to us: another member was approached with a similar proposal, requesting that she pay for shipping fees plus a commission fee of £1,500 to get her wine to Hong Kong where it would sell at a premium.

EFW ex-customers are not alone in being targeted.

An elderly gentleman who had bought from Bordeaux Fine Wines previously, was contacted before Christmas with an offer to place wines for sale at auction in Hong Kong, again on the proviso that he pay £2,000 for shipping (and insurance). He was informed by the cold-caller – going by the name of Jay Kingsley - that his case of Montrose 2009 for which he’d paid £3K (at a time when it was worth no more than £1,500) would fetch £7,000 in Hong Kong due to heightened demand ahead of the Chinese New Year.

If you’ve bought from EFW or other cold callers from so-called wine investment companies, watch out for these scams, demand to know how the cold-caller got your information, and do not be taken in. Collect as much information as you can about the caller and their contact details, and report them to Jim Budd. Check the value of your wines on the Wine Owners website, and do let us know.

The bottom line is: if it sounds too good to be true, it will almost certainly be a scam.

UK Wine Writers And Bloggers Index

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2015-02-09

We’ve been working with our good friends at Traackr, a unique San-Francisco and London based platform for influencers, to build a ranking of UK wine writers and bloggers based on a measure of their relative influence - weighted favourably towards their social media engagement.

Traackr enabled us to create key influencer scoring for wine writers and bloggers in the UK, by their influence within social media. This is measured through interaction with their content, actions such as comments, link backs and re-tweets; and aims to encompass all personal activity, extending beyond the scope of traditional website-centric measuring tools.

The index highlights wine writers and bloggers who are most active through social media, and who have websites or blogs that are at least partially freely accessible and up to date. It excludes those who run subscription sites behind paywalls, where these do not have content that can be accessed via RSS feeds in front of the paywall.

See the following post for further explanation of methodology and why some top influencers of wine fine buyers aren't in the top 15. Traackr’s scoring algorithm is takes into account 3 variables:

REACH - The measure of total audience size eg blog visitors, Twitter followers, YouTube subscribers.

RESONANCE – How much activity is created every time something is published. Engagement constitutes a crucial (and therefore heavily weighted) variable that reflects degrees of influence.

A writer or blogger with the biggest reach may therefore still come below another with a smaller following but who has a higher resonance score – because the level of engagement is used as a prime measure of how influential they are within their audience.

RELEVANCE - This is a measure based on a broad range of wine-related keywords, which in the case of this index reflects the fine wine end of the market. Relevance is a factor of how often someone uses the keywords that drove the search; the timing of the keyword usage; the diversity of the keywords used by an influencer; and the placement of keywords.

Influence is dynamic, and scoring will reflect how levels of activity and engagement change. Online and social media are highly fluid ; this index will be updated every 6 months to reflect changes and newcomers.

The index highlights new or niche writing talent as well as confirming the importance of many household names, for the benefit of wine lovers and collectors as well as those who are discovering wine.

We hope you enjoy reading them as much as we do. Please let us know which of your favourite UK-based wine writers we’ve missed so we can include them in the project and see how they fare in six months’ time!

Top 15 Influencers


And here's the complete list of all the UK wine influencers:

Rank Influencer  Reach* Resonance* Relevance* Website
1 Jancis Robinson 99 73 87
2 Jim Budd 89 56 91
3 Jamie Goode 92 31 95
4 Fiona Beckett 96 47 90
5 Andrew Barrow 84 68 87
6 Tim Atkin 93 46 89
7 Sarah Ahmed 81 51 90
8 Victoria Moore 81 50 89
9 Matthew Jukes 80 46 89
10 John Abbott 62 57 89
11 William Lyons 82 33 89
12 Robert McIntosh 91 47 80
13 Nicolas Rezzouk 49 73 83
14 Lucy Shaw 65 44 86
15 Richard W. H. Bray 62 36 89
16 Geordie Clarke 71 44 81
17 Rupert Millar 26 69 84
18 Jane Parkinson 78 32 79
19 Robert Joseph 87 24 78
20 Quentin Sadler 76 27 79
21 Richard Hemming 80 40 75
22 Natasha Hughes 77 34 76
23 Rosemary George 83 37 72
24 Henry Jeffreys 84 56 68
25 Warren Edwardes 46 50 74
26 Chris Kissack 76 71 64
27 Vim Chatwani 73 26 72
28 Sarah Abbott 79 24 71
29 Daniel Winerackd 52 31 72

30 Neal Martin 86 25 61
31 Matt Walls 62 42 61
32 David Lowe 75 28 60
33 Peter Wood 41 10 74
34 Walter Speller 44 90 51
35 Nick Stephens 50 43 55
36 Anthony Rose 81 48 47
37 Oz Clarke 94 50 44
38 Sally Easton 70 37 42
39 Michael Edwards 27 53 45
40 Patrick Schmitt 19 12 56
41 Benjamin Dawes 45 47 29
42 Pieter Rosenthal 48 50 25
43 Sarah Newton 93 29 13

Source: Traackr

The online wine community in a nutshell - Source: Traackr.

The online wine community in a nutshell - Source: Traackr.

Buying from reputable fine wine merchants & brokers

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2012-03-05

Check out Jim Budd's excellent blog and site, who has been leading the good fight against disreputable and financially risky traders for many years.

The message is loud and clear when looking to invest in wine:

  • Stick to established sources, especially when buying futures
  • Use pricing tools such as Wine Searcher to establish fair market value based on a known range of selling prices if in any doubt
  • Report suspicious cold calls and hard selling to Jim.

I've met intelligent people who have invested in wine futures and lost considerable amounts of money. Basic checks and following Jim's advice is as good a way as any to ensure many, many years of happy drinking and fine wine appreciation.

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