London has seen a spate of spectacular wine crimes in recent weeks.
Earlier this month, £11,500 worth of wine was stolen from Michelin-starred Fitzrovia restaurant Pied a Terre through fraudulent credit cards.
Then, last week a conman swindled a restaurant out of £28,000 of wine by posing as Chelsea footballer Didier Drogba’s agent. Fraudulent credit cards were also used in this scam.
The latest victim is fine wine merchant Woolf Sung, based in Covent Garden.
This time, the con artist said he was working for a law firm in the City and wanted to buy wine for a party.
According to the Evening Standard he ordered a case (12 bottles) of 1986 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Burgundies and a magnum of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Romanée-Conti 1989.
Together the order cost £49,800.
Woolf Sung owner and chief executive Sebastian Woolf said that his firm does not release any stock until funds have cleared. But in this instance, Woolf’s bank subsequently cancelled the deposit, saying it suspected fraud had occurred.
Instead of paying using fraudulent cards, the fraudsters intercepted a cheque book belonging to a City firm.
Woolf said: “The payment was received via my bank — it did not come up as a cheque payment, so we released the wines. But they had a chequebook and somehow managed to make the cheque payment look like a bank transfer.”
He added: “These fraudsters are targeting some of the best wines in the world. They know what they are doing. The bank made a big error and admitted it. They agreed to cover the cost, so we are not out of pocket.”
The bottles are all numbered, making selling them on legitimately exceedingly difficult.
So are they being stolen for crooked tycoons, or do the thieves themselves have a taste for the finest wines available to humanity?
Got two mins to tell us how we can improve LondonlovesBusiness.com for you? Take our super-quick survey. Thanks!