A recent VinePair feature exposed the shady world of underground social media whiskey sellers scamming people out of hundreds of dollars with the false claim that they have a highly coveted bottle of whiskey for sale. The author of the article, Dylan Ettinger, was actually unassumingly roped into the sham when he discovered an account created by a scammer who had stolen his photos and used them to pose him as a satisfied buyer in order to continue duping innocent whiskey lovers. But there are no satisfied buyers because after collecting the money from misled customers, the seller then disappears, and a bottle is never delivered — because it never existed.
But is there really anything anyone can do about these fraudulent sales? Social media accounts are hard to trace and get shut down permanently as the people behind them can just activate new account. Plus, with the secondary market for bourbon so out of control, the advice to “only purchase through the proper channels” becomes increasingly hard to follow, with the “proper channels” becoming more and more elusive. With bottles regularly fetching thousands of dollars, a $200 bottle of Pappy Van Winkle can be eye-grabbing, but it really is too good to be true.
If someone is telling you they have an incredibly rare bottle at an affordable price from nothing more than a social media account, that should give you pause. Luckily, there are many people in the whiskey industry who have figured out these schemes and now look out for others in the community, pointing out potential hints of a false sale. Unfortunately, just as many people still fall victim, sinking their money into the possibility of maybe, just maybe, finally getting their hands on that prized bottle.
On this episode of the “VinePair Podcast,” Joanna and Zach delve into the murky world of social media sellers of whiskey, why fraud and deception run rampant, and why no one seems to want to do much of anything about it. Tune in for more.
Zach is reading: Duff Beer’s Rocky Road from ‘The Simpsons’ to the Real World
Joanna is watching: VinePair’s YouTube Channel