Piper, who posed as a wine broker, preyed on the elderly and vulnerable – cold calling and persuading them transfer their wine to his company Embassy Wine UK Ltd. Piper charged an advance fee for sales for ‘legal costs’. Once the wine was transferred Piper would become impossible to contact and the duped investor would never receive their promised money.
The fraud netted Piper at least £300,000 with one investor losing £150,000. Another investor, an elderly woman who had already been a victim of World Wide Wines Ltd, was persuaded to buy a further £33,000 worth of wine from Embassy. This included a case of 2004 Haut Brion for £10,000 in 2012, which could have been bought elsewhere for £2400. The salesman claimed it should have cost £12,000!
Embassy offered to sell her portfolio for £60,000 – charging £20,000 in ‘legal fees’ reimbursable in seven days.
HMRC was defrauded for £51,104 as Piper failed to declare any income between 2008 and 2014.
Embassy Wines UK Ltd was founded on 28th June 2011. It was wound up in the public interest on 3rd December 2014. Piper was the sole director and shareholder with just £1 of share capital.
Piper has been jailed on Judges Remand and will be sentenced on 16th September 2016. I hope that Judge Louise Kamill will out Piper away for a good stretch and that Piper will be forced to repay his victims, whose life savings he looted and spent on high living including nearly £90,000 on a BMW X6 and a Range Rover Sport. Piper's expertise lay not as he claimed in fine wine but in trousering his elderly and vulnerable clients' money.
Some companies also make bogus claims to have taken over liquidations from legitimate companies like Grant Thornton and ‘found’ investors missing wines abroad. Invariably investors are again left empty handed.