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As a vintage wine fraudster gets ten years in jail, how can you ensure you don't fall prey to a phoney bottle of wine?

by , 08 August 2014

Yesterday, a US court sentenced Rudy Kurniawan to ten years in jail following his multimillion dollar wine scam.

Along with his hefty sentence, the court ordered him to pay back over $20 million to victims of his fraud.

So how can you avoid buying a bottle of dodgy vintage wine?

Read on to find out…

The wine fraudster made millions from making fake wines in his kitchen

A US court convicted Mr Kurniawan back in December for his “years-long scheme to scam collectors” of vintage wines, says New York Daily News. His victims included US billionaire businessman William Koch.

His wine scam “ran from 2004 to 2012,” reports the BBC. Over this period Mr Kurniawan mixed “old wine with newer vintages in his kitchen,” He then sold them to unsuspecting wine collectors “as even more expensive wines”.

Prosecutors believe he’s responsible for producing “up to 12,000 bottles of fake vintages,” says The Drinks Business. He then sold the bottles on at auction.

The proceeds from Mr Kurniawan’s scam financed his extravagant lifestyle, adds the BBC. This includes “purchases of authentic wine, luxury cars, a Beverley Hills mansion, flights on private jets, designer watches and clothing, fine art and much more”.

If you’re a vintage wine collector, how can you avoid buying a bottle of fake wine?

If you’re not spending thousands of rand on a bottle of wine, chances are you’re not going to fall prey to a wine fraudster like Mr Kurniawan. But if you’re a wine collector willing to spend tens of thousands on a vintage wine, beware.

Bill Edgerton, a wine consultant and appraiser, told Forbes there are a few rules to stick to:

  • Only buy from a source you trust, such as a reputable auction house.
  • Compare the foil at the top of the bottle and the label to a known genuine bottle.
  • Beware if the label isn’t straight on the bottle.
  • Be suspicious of wines older than 1980. These wines are far more susceptible to fraudulent practices.

So there you have it, how to ensure you don’t fall prey to a phoney bottle of vintage wine.

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As a vintage wine fraudster gets ten years in jail, how can you ensure you don't fall prey to a phoney bottle of wine?
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