At least 150 elderly Americans have been swindled out of $ 13million by’men with British accents’ constituting as whiskey and wine experts, according to the FBI.
The scam went on for five years and spanned two continents utilizing three companies to allegedly defraud investors by dangling promises of high returns on their investments in rare wines and whiskeys.
Fraudsters would use fake names like’Elliot Stewart’ to convince potential investors of their authenticity.
Authorities have charged Casey Alexander, who resides in England, of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
Three companies, Windsor Jones, Charles Winn and Vintage Whiskey Casks, used’aggressive and deceptive tactics’, to defraud elderly US investors, according to investors
Ronan Sayburn, who has worked with Gordon Ramsey, appears on the company’s website. He said:’I never knew about them or gave them permission to use any of my stuff’
One unnamed 89-year-old from Ohio dropped $ 300,000 on rare dessert wines and a purported storage locker in France, according to court records seen by the Washington Post.
A 73-year-old from Michigan spent $ 85,000 after hearing of a 40 percent return from the Chinese market.
The three companies, Windsor Jones, Charles Winn and Vintage Whiskey Casks, used’aggressive and deceptive tactics’, according to investigators.
Windsor Jones claims to sell’Luxury fine wins’ from Bordeaux on its website, and features a video from master sommelier Ronan Sayburn, who has worked with Gordon Ramsey.
‘I never knew about them or gave them permission to use any of my stuff,’ he told The Times.
All of the money in Vintage Whiskey Casks, a US-registered firm, was traced back to American investors. Alexander was registered as the business’s officer and received $ 33,000 from the account, records showed.
The scheme obtained the numbers of elderly US residents and cold-called them, using a web of limited liability companies to defraud its customers –ignoring them or giving excuses when they became worried and asked about pulling their money back out.
The 89-year-old from Ohio reported the case to the police, who referred the matter to the FBI.
The FBI reportedly acquired an informant who worked for Charles Winn and Vintage Whiskey Casks, two of the three companies, passing information on to the intelligence agency.
He’d accepted the job while his wife was sick, and told Federal agents he hadn’t done much research on the company. Realizing what their scheme entailed, he decided to turn on them.
The web of companies received cease-and-desist letters from three different states, which the companies ignored.
The Bureau reached out to potential investors and told them to void their checks, saving over $ 466,000.
The scam went on for five years and spanned two continents utilizing three companies to allegedly defraud investors by dangling promises of high returns on their investments
Federal agents then tapped a co-operating witness from Cuyahoga County, Ohio, who agreed to pretend to be a potential investor for the FBI in exchange for a reduced sentence.
The undercover investor had been charged in an unrelated securities fraud case, but agreed to work for the agency when caught.
He agreed to contact and meet with company employees, working his way further into the company.
The informant inside the trio of companies tipped off the FBI that Alexander would be traveling from England to Ohio, coordinating with the undercover investors who organized a meeting with Alexander who did a sales pitch for whiskey investments.
Waiting for the right moment, the FBI then arrested Alexander on June 14.
Court records show he was released after posting a $ 50,000 bond.