Wine Name:

Tuesday 16 November 2010

New scam: hijacking the good name of reputable wine companies

I'm very happy to post details of this new scam that Lionel Nierop of Bid for Wine has brought to my attention. Although not all the 'modi operandi' of this scam are not fully apparent at present, it appears to be similar to the scams that target European producers, particularly in France, attempting to secure consignments of wine without paying for them using the names of legitimate companies.

If anyone has any information about callers hijacking a legitimate company’s good name please email me on

Once again this is another warning that cold calls are bad news.

Just freeze out cold callers.

Remember that no company authorized by the Financial Services Authority can use cold calls.

From Lionel Nierop, managing director – Bid for Wine:

Wine Investment Cold Calls – a Warning
I’d like to draw to the attention of readers of investdrinks to what appears to be a new scam in the already murky world of wine investment – namely hijacking the name of an established business. The fraudsters then use the name to sell wines for investment, presumably with the intention of pocketing investors’ funds and leaving the legitimate business taking the heat.

I became aware of the ‘scam’ yesterday evening after I was emailed by a gentleman wishing to complain about several cold calls made to him, ostensibly by one of my employees. The caller was apparently rude and persistent.

The email was a surprise and puzzled me for several reasons:

- Firstly we do not solicit for business by cold-calling.
- Secondly we have no employee with the name I was given.
- Thirdly I am deeply sceptical about wine investment in general. This stems from regularly having to auction off stock at for people who have been mis-sold wines as being suitable for investment and have then seen the deal gone sour. I would always advise anyone considering putting their money in to wine to look beyond the sales pitch and, if still convinced, only to consider purchasing wines as from serious, ‘blue chip’ merchants (see Jim Budd’s list).

I am sure that we at Bid for Wine ( are not the only ones who are having our name misused in this manner and I would urge the trade to be vigilant and anyone being contacted by cold-callers selling wine as an investment to take details and pass them on to the police. In addition, if anyone encounters our name in association with such a sales pitch I would be very grateful for any information!

Lionel Nierop

Managing Director
Bid for Wine

Tel. +44 (0)207 183 3985
Mob. +44 (0)7762 566894

The Wine Trade Ltd (T/A Bid for Wine) is registered in England & Wales, Company No. 6521437.
Registered Office Address: 2nd Floor, 145-157 St John St, London, EC1V 4PY.
Correspondence Address: P.O. Box 638, Exeter, Devon, EX1 9JY


  1. This post is odd. "Hijacking" the identity of another firm screams premeditated, deliberate scam, but the "scammer" is clearly going to be found out the minute he gets going.

    I simply don't understand why someone would go to all the effort of setting up a relatively sophisticated fraud, but make it so vulnerable to detection. Scammers on the whole, I think, are far from stupid.

    I think there's more than meets the eye to this one.....

  2. I'm not quite sure what you are suggesting here. I will be interesting to see if other examples of this practice come to light.

  3. Yikes - just read my comment again and it reads like I'm pointing a suspicious finger at mr nierop. Not my intention at all!

    More that I simply can't understand what the "hijackers" were thinking. Beggers belief!

  4. Thanks for the clarification anon. I agree I'm not sure how the scamsters get the money assuming they succeed in selling some wine.

  5. The Scammers would obtain the money by
    1.fake website alternative address and number
    2. a trading name which can be the same as a ltd company which is not recorded at companies house but you can clear cheques so long as they do not put limited/ltd on the cheque
    3 transfer any cheques abroad and clear through some dodgy bank
    hope that helps

  6. Dera Jim
    Cold calling is legal, you keep going on about it but legitimate companies do call call, it is the cheapest form of marketing what else do you recommend as you seem to complain about everything

    We are now in a technological world, your attitude is archaic to say the least
    In the US regulated firms are allowed to cold call

    better a legitimate form does it rather than a boiler room, you mention the FSA yet some of the biggest share scams were FSA authorised!!!!

  7. Anon – many thanks for this explanation of how this could work.

  8. Anon - re cold calling. I have no problem being archaic and you will plenty of warnings on sites like ActionFraud, the FSA etc.

    'better a legitimate form does it rather than a boiler room, you mention the FSA yet some of the biggest share scams were FSA authorised!!!!'

    Sorry but your argument doesn't hang together here.

  9. Further evidence of the grief that cold calls can bring – gentleman who has had his wallet thinned by agreeing to buy overpriced wine as an 'investment'.

  10. Dear Jim
    was it not you that stated do not buy 2008 Lafite on your invest drinks website?

    what do you have to say about that....

    will you admit you were wrong

  11. Jim, I think a firm which generates leads from Cold Calling, qualifies the call, sends a brochure, supporting information, graphs, charts, forecasts, discloses the risks, then allows a cooling off period etc. After this if they make a sale the wine is stored in the customers name. Plus obviously charging prices in accordance with Liv-ex etc. there is nothing really wrong with the sale being initiated from a cold call marketing campaign. I think your objection is the cold call boiler room, don't miss this opportunity style pitch where the customer is pressurised into buying something without enough information. Therefore I think your stance should be High Pressure Sales Techniques and boiler room operations. For example many companies buy computers to Dell, change insurance companies and printing companies all from cold calls, so its not all bad, its about how much information is provided. The FSA authorised firms make the proper disclosures, the High Pressure Sales teams do not, its all hype and people buy because they don't want to miss out because the deal won't be there next week.

  12. Anon. Delighted to see that your memory is in good order. Naturally I accept that people who bought Lafite 2008 en primeur at the right price look to have made a profit. I trust that everyone who ordered this wine does indeed receive it. About ten days ago I heard of a case where a company was trying to back out of the deal after the recent sharp rise in the price of the 2008 Lafite.

  13. Anon: cold calls. Although I appreciate your argument, I don't believe investments should be sold by cold calls nor does the FSA.

  14. Dear Jim
    You still did not answer the question..... did you not on your website tell people not to buy/ invest in 2008 Lafite a simple yes/ no would suffice

    In the US which has a more advanced and stringent regulation, regulated companies are allowed to cold call.. which I think is fair

    Was the company trying to back out or were they just asking for the improved market price to be paid as there is a difference and the client simply did not want to come up with the extra

    I think your blog is excellent

  15. Anon. The client had paid en primeur in full and was being advised that the company could only supply part of the order. Fortunately they changed their mind and are now due to supply the order in full.

  16. Out of curiosity, why didn't you name and shame the company attempting to back out of the en primeur deal in your usual fashion?

  17. Simply because the problem was soon resolved.

  18. also England has strong liable laws

  19. Anon I think you had libel laws in mind.

  20. Haha - brilliant!

  21. Dear Jim
    yes libel laws correct! still does not change the fact that you have to be careful what is stated on the internet is in the public domain and has a legal ramification

    My spelling may be off, but as they say " I now know the cut of your cloth" you like to attack! yet when you are caught out, you will never admit when you are wrong! just like all politicians and journalists you will skirt around the subject and deflect the answer or ignore the question....

  22. Anon. Thank you I'm aware of the libel laws. You are obviously entitled to your opinion that I like to attack. I prefer to use the word inform, which I think you would understand if you saw the number of enquiries from people who have either been sold overpriced wine or who have paid for wine that was never bought. The best way of ignore your questions would be to leave your comments languishiung in the awaiting moderation box.Instead your comments are published.

    Kind regards!

  23. 2008 is not on the whole a good investment, yes some headline trades have allegedly shown huge profits. But all that has really happened is that there are firms trading with each other, the bottom line is someone is going to end up with some over priced wine, as happens with all unregulated sales of commodities. The weakness stems from the very low transactional volume of the index platforms and the ability of merchants to manipulate the prices.

    Bubble waiting to burst, simple as that.

  24. Hi Jim

    You mentioned that you have a list of 60 wine merchants where you will not buy from. Can you provide us the list?

  25. The list of companies can be found on one of the pages of this blog on the right hand side of this blog.