Fraud Alert

Who would have thought a group (or maybe just one person) of fraudsters would target CPW?  Over the past 2 weeks we’ve been inundated with phonecalls from French wine producers gaily confirming large orders supposedly received from CPW. Here is a copy of events over the past 10 days and action taken.

As I am know you are aware, Christopher Piper Wines Ltd. is a long-established wine importers and merchants who started in 1979. Over the past week or so, we have been the subject of a fraud operation against us which is based on a number of individuals stealing our corporate identity and placing fake orders on our behalf. The scam that is being operated is generally based on the following method:

1) an e-mail is sent to a French wine producer from Mr. John Earle (the name of our Managing Director) expressing interest in their wines, an example of which, I have copied below.

Message du 15/03/11 11:54
De : sales@christopherpiperwines-ltd.co.uk
A : “chateau pouyanne”
Copie à :
Objet : re: Distribution de vos millésimes au Royaume Uni CHATEAU POUYANNE

Cher monsieur Zausa,
Nous avons reçu votre message et ayant dégusté vos vins par le biais de l’un de nos clients (une ligne de restaurants représenté partout en Angleterre et en Écosse), nous souhaiterons une réel collaboration avec votre domaine pour la distribution de vos millésimes en Écosse et en Angleterre sur notre réseau de distribution qui est vaste (bars, nights club, restaurant, casino, mais pas en grande surface).
Sachez que vos millésimes Château Pouyanne graves rouge tradition 2008 et 2009 ainsi que le Château Pouyanne Graves Blanc 2010 sont vraiment demandés sur notre réseau de distribution et que nous souhaiterions passer une première commande de 1800 bouteilles de chacun de ces millésimes avec en plus 600 bouteilles du millésime Château Pouyanne Graves Rouge prestige 2007 en conditionnement unique de bouteilles de 75 cl pour tous ces millésimes.
Merci de nous confirmer la disponibilité des quantités que nous souhaiterions commander.
Vu cette collaboration qui nous semblerait fructueuse pour nos deux compagnies vu notre large réseau de distribution, nous souhaiterons effectuer nos paiements de nos factures à 30 jours fin de mois par virement bancaire.
Si nous avons votre accord pour ce mode de règlement, nous souhaiterons que vous nous le signifiez de sorte à ce que nous puissions vous faire parvenir notre bon de commande.
Merci et bonne réception.

Managing Director
John Earle

CHRISTOPHER PIPER WINES LTD
1 Silver Street
Ottery St Mary, Devon
EX11 1DB
Registered Company : 1509601
VAT Number : GB 321 0421 29
Tel : +44 208 144 0292
Fax : +44 709 285 8102

The fraudsters have created their own web-domaine to look like ours (sales@christopherpiperwines-ltd.co.uk) whereas our real e-mail address is sales@christopherpiperwines.co.uk. They have copied our Registered Company No. and VAT No. which is available on our website but the telephone numbers are nothing to do with us. Certain producers have received faxed orders (see attached PDF) on a mocked-up order form which has been made by using certain banners on our website.

2) By this stage, most French growers are aware that this is a scam and have got directly in touch with us querying the proposed order. We have obviously warned them that it is a blatant fraud and asked them to proceed no further. However, it seems that one or two people have been duped in to going a stage further and have agreed for a collection of the order.

We have taken the following steps so far:

1) Reported the crime to Devon and Cornwall Police and Mr. Earle had an interview with them on Monday. Another specialist police unit at Tottenham in London that has experience of this kind of fraud has also been notified and will be helping our local police.

2) We have contacted various regional inter-professional bodies via growers who have been involved.

3) We have contacted the domaine-owners of the fake site and they are legally obliged to give us the details of the people involved by this Friday.

We have done our utmost to send out a more general warning throughout the French wine trade but any help is clearly appreciated. . We are obviously concerned that our own good standing and reputation is not impeached by this fraud. If anyone has direct contact with the French Export Guarantee Agency or COFACE please warn them about this fraud.

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