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Press release: 5th April 2019
'A group of fraudsters were jailed for a combined 17 years and 9 months today for their part in an elaborate wine investment scam which conned nearly £1m out of investors, many of whom were elderly and vulnerable.
Adam Edwards, Barry Warner, Christopher Brummit, Tarik Drissi and James Brooks were today sentenced at Southwark Crown Court for their actions between 2013 and 2015.
The five men operated three fake companies - Mayfair Worldwide Trading Ltd, Commodex Global Limited and Winchester Associates Ltd. These companies claimed to be established fine-wine brokers based in prime locations such as Berkeley Square, Mayfair but were in fact based in industrial estate units on the outskirts of Great Dunmow in Essex.
The gang cold-called fine-wine investors from a ‘sucker list’, and through a series of aggressive sales tactics, managed to defraud a number of wine holdings from vulnerable victims. Once these had been obtained, they would be sold on to legitimate buyers, with the proceeds pocketed by the fraudsters.
Victims were then told a series of elaborate lies about the whereabouts of their money. Some were told that their wine had been reinvested into graphene, diamonds or gold.
Sian Mitchell from the CPS Specialist Fraud Division said:
“This was an unscrupulous gang who would go to great lengths to defraud elderly and vulnerable people out of their very valuable wines, many of which represented their savings for their retirement. One of the victims was a disabled man who, as a result of not receiving payment, was unable to buy a new wheelchair.
“They went to great lengths to legitimise their fraudulent activities - Mayfair Worldwide Trading issued a bogus press release claiming that the company had won the ‘2014 ID Times Trading Award for Best Asset Exchange Programme and the Internship Europe Excellence Award.’ Obviously, no such awards existed, and were designed to dupe innocent investors.
“We are delighted to have secured custodial sentences for this group, and will continue to prosecute those who think they can benefit from fraud.”
How the wine fraud operated1. Victim A is cold called by ‘David Barrington’ from Mayfair World Trading. Having in reality spoken to the defendant Adam Edwards, Victim A agrees to sell his wines to Mayfair Worldwide Trading (MWT) for £38,228 in a ‘graphene asset swap’, on the understanding graphene will be sold and the sum paid to him in 28 days
2. The victim instructed LCB Bonded Warehouse to transfer wines to the account of MWT at EHD Bonded Warehouse
3. A legitimate buyer, Vintners Fine Wine Merchants Ltd, agree to buy the wine for £27,470 and instructs EHD to transfer wines to them
4. Vintners Ltd transfers payment of £30,970 for these wines (and £3,500 worth of other wine) to the bank account of MWT - none is paid to the victim.
5. Having spoken to another employee with an assumed name ‘Peter Phillips’ and told there is a problem with the graphene market, Victim A is now told his wines will now be converted to diamonds and sold
6. Having received no money and struggling to contact MWT, Victim A contacts the police to report the fraud
- Adam James Edwards - 6 years plus 5 years Director’s Disqualification Order
- Barrymore Alexis Warner - 5 ½ years
- Tarik Drissi - 3 years
- James Robert Brooks - 20 months imprisonment suspended for 2 years, 300 hours unpaid work
- Christopher Brummitt – Sentenced in absence – 3 years 3 months, 5 years Director’s Disqualification Order