/ Food & Drink, Money

Scam watch: have you been called by a wine ‘investment’ scam?

Wine investment scam

Cold callers often pitch investment ‘opportunities’ – but sadly, many are scams. One couple was persuaded to invest thousands in fine wines – can they get their money back?

Mary told us: My husband was cold-called and talked into investing £1,900 in a case of wine that would supposedly increase in value. The caller told him his company would store the wine in a bonded warehouse until his investment had made him some money.

They sent him literature about bottles of wine that had sold for thousands, and followed up with several phone calls until he was convinced to invest.

The company then rang multiple times to try and make him reinvest, as his original purchase had supposedly made money. Eventually, he invested a further £1,000.

He received a contract to sign, but didn’t sign anything. Instead, he rang back to say he would like the full £2,900 returned. The caller said this would take 28 days, but we have had no contact with him since. Is there any way we can get the money back?

Our say on investing with cold callers

Never give money to cold-callers offering investment opportunities. Often, they’re fraudsters trying to convince you to invest in worthless, over-priced or even non-existent products. You should report this case to Action Fraud and the police.

If you paid by credit card, you may be able to claim a refund from your credit card company under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act.

Banks also have the power to reclaim bank transfers made in error, but this is dependent on those funds still being in that account.

Have you ever been contacted about a scam wine investment?


I have had these lot call me a few times. Ask them where they got your number from.
I also ask them how I need to store the wine as I don’t have any space….blah blah blah. ..then how long have I got to drink the stuff… can I come and see it…etc etc it winds them up good and proper the caller will hate you but is a good laugh for me….

Unfortunately it shows that no matter how much one publicises scams there are always some who are too credulous to realise what is being offered cannot be true.

I have known three credulous punters all who lost thousands.

I have posted elsewhere the Consumerists report on blocking mass calling and the sooner this aspect is made the responsibility of the telephone companies who have the facility to recognise unusual calling patterns the sooner a major dent can be made in nuisance calls and crime.

Couldn’t agree more dieseltaylor.

I can’t understand why telephone companies don’t block known nuisance calls and texts. They must be able to trace where they have come from and put a block on them.

Ofcom should be working with the telephone companies to stop them.

Whist blocking unwanted calls is one answer there will always be ways to approach people with fraudulent investments – through the post for example.

This sort of scam feeds off greed for a return offered that is far more than the norm – even if it is a legitimate offer the bigger the possible gain the higher the risk.

It also highlights the folly of entering unknown territory – if you don’t understand an investment, or don’t have a known, accredited and trustworthy advisor then investing is totally at your own risk.

If the investment proves fraudulent then retrieving your money from a credit card may be reasonable – the bank should be more careful to which traders it gives credit card facilities. But it is perhaps a question of how much responsibility the investor should take for their own actions – not researching or seeking professional advice. I am uncomfortable with banks providing recompense automatically – after all it is not the bank’s money that is used, in the end it comes from you and I as the bank’s customers. Perhaps only if the bank can retrieve the money then they should recompense the unwise investor?

For some reason, banks seem unwilling to trace then try and retrieve where fraudulent money has gone.

Some time ago, I made an online purchase where I told the seller to refund my money and arrange collection when they sent an older model product than advertised. They refused and I asked my bank to retract the payment. The bank would not do that but they did reimburse me.

It would seem to me that the bank or credit card of origin should be held liable for fraudulent transactions not left to the goodwill of victims banks or other financial institutions.

Do you think anyone who has been the victim of any kind of fraud should be automatically compensated whatever the method of payment? Surely an individual has responsibility for their own actions?

With regard to credit cards, ideally the banks should not issue this form of facility to clients who are not trustworthy and I err on the side of the victim when they are scammed. I do not know though how you can deal with this in the real world.

As far as debit cards are concerned they are really just a more convenient way of making a bank transfer so I don’t see automatic recompense as appropriate unless the bank can recover the funds first. You could pay by normal bank transfer or cheque for example and I wouldn’t expect compensation then.

No, I don’t think all fraud victims should be automatically compensated. I don’t believe my bank should have compensated me on that occasion but they offered and as I was not going to get anywhere with the company, I accepted gratefully. It would have been better if the bank had traced the payment to the source and tried to retract the payment and the seller given a black mark against him. Too many of these and he would get labelled as a scammer for advertising new model items but shipping old models. It could enable a case to made against him at some stage.

Very often it is the victim’s fault for falling for these scams especially when they are get rich quick schemes that anyone should think twice about. The wine example above should not be compensated by his payment method as it was his own fault.

Totally agree with your first paragraph, scammers should be brought to book.

But disagree with you on the rest. If you’re left without the wine how’s that different to being sold an older product to that advertised? One’s a fraudulent trade (selling an older product) or not selling what was bought the other’s a fraudulent or virtual investment, again not selling the investor the product they thought they were getting. You seem to think the amount of money discounts the claim as valid? Or “getting rich quick” is invalid? It was a long term investment worth £1,000’s no doubt, does that mean BHS pensions holders should not get THEIR money back. Money is money and a scam is a scam. The criminal should be brought to book, not the scammed be ignored and brush it off as a nochalent get rich quick error of judgement, pensioners lose their life savings thinking their investing for their families.

I think people are generally protected by the law surely, whether it be Goods & Services Act, Trading Standards, FCA or Consumer Credit Cards ..etc… To clarify, I mean if a company enters into business with you and runs off with your money, ie. fails to deliver or provide the service AND you’ve done due diligence on them, (as I generally do), then I feel banks and companies house ie. authorities, regulators in general should shoulder the burden for their corruption as they should be as vigilant with companies as they are are individuals!

I do not agree with you, Markle. If you have exercised due diligence in sourcing goods or services from a company [that is, you have carried out reasonable research, sought opinions, recommendations or references, checked whether Which? or the personal finance sections of newspapers have made any comments, and looked on the internet to see if there are any reviews or reports] and you then consider that the company is good for your trade you should have nothing to worry about and can order with confidence. If something goes badly wrong I would not expect your bank to automatically reimburse you since you will have the name and registered address of the company and can take legal action yourself. I certainly don’t see how Companies House or the Regulator has any immediate obligation to you although where the sector is supervised by a regulator or an ombudsman they could investigate any miss-selling or other wrongdoing. The possible problem with ‘due diligence’ is that customers are so enamoured of the product, or its price, or the claims made for it, that they suspend their critical judgment and their ‘due diligence’ is not objective or diligent enough. Buying anything from an overseas supplier is always more risky because it will be outside the UK legal jurisdiction making any recovery more difficult and that needs to be factored into the ‘due diligence’. Making a substantial investment over the telephone would fail any normal due diligence exercise, as would buying something that you have no experience of and have only the seller’s word for. Buyers do have to accept the risk of their own judgments.

I got one of these calls and he didn’t appear to be listening to me so I told him firmly that wine was for drinking, hung up and immediately blocked him.