UNSUSPECTING wine lovers in Spain have been left with a sour taste in their mouths after falling victim to an Italian fake wine scam.
Empty bottles expensive wines were refilled with low quality plonk and marketed online as genuine ones ‘on offer.’
The Italian Carabinieri police, supported by Europol, carried out raids in eight Italian provinces (Avellino, Barletta-Andria-Trani, Brescia, Como, Foggia, Pisa, Prato and Rome) to bring down the counterfeiting network.
The wines were sold in Spain, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and the United States, often ending up in the glasses of unsuspecting wine bar and restaurant customers.
Empty bottles were harvested from restaurants by two people working in the food industry. These bottles were then refilled with cheap wines bought online or at discount stores.
Afterwards, the bottles were re-corked and sealed with counterfeit foil tops.
Once contact with a buyer was established via a major e-commerce platform, the counterfeiters extended promotional offers, setting prices way cheaper then authentic bottles would cost.
A magnum format (1.5 l) of some of the genuine wines often costs more than €1,000.