The Spanish National Guard recently dismantled a virtual cyber fraud organization that had created more than 90 shell companies through which large quantities of wine were fraudulently obtained from wineries, which then changed the labels and sold the wine at exorbitant prices.
Image courtesy of: Penin Guide Spain
Nine suspects have been arrested, and two others are under investigation on multiple charges of money laundering, fraud, document forgery, and industrial property rights violations.
According to the latest reports, the ring is based in La Rioja and uses two linked virtual companies, initially placing small orders and paying in cash to gain the trust of potential victims, before requesting large quantities of wine and offering deferred payments. Once they receive the goods, they immediately disappear. With this criminal technique, a total of 125,000 bottles of wine, worth more than 129,300 euros, were obtained from a wine company in Burgos. The National Guard eventually seized 3,160 bottles of 750ml wine and 60 bottles of 5L wine in Saragoza and Navarra. All of these wines were relabeled and put on the market at exorbitant prices.
The 90 virtual companies had no substantial business activity and were all vehicles used to benefit from money laundering and illegal wine sales. The modus operandi of the fraudulent organization was perfect, with a well-staffed and hierarchical organization, where each member had a specific and particular function in the illegal activity. The investigation proceedings have now been transferred to the Burgos III Court for trial.