The next time you receive a random call from someone encouraging you to invest in aged whiskey, think twice before you take the plunge.
Some 150 people recently fell victim to a scam involving rare wine and whiskey, losing a total of almost $13 million in the process. The conspiracy targeted older adults across the United States, who were cold-called with the lure of a lucrative, long-term investment in pricey bottles of the alcohol.
The investment included the promise of a 2017 vintage Scotch, and individuals were told they could multiply their investment over the course of several years.
Casey Alexander, of England, was arrested Tuesday on charges of conspiring to commit mail fraud, according to Cleveland.com. He is identified as having handled the money for the three agencies involved in the project, as well as involvement in the actual scamming. His name was also included on financial paperwork, and Alexander cashed many of the checks in person.
In addition to handling the financial aspects of the scam, Alexander traveled to the United States to meet with potential investors.
The criminal charges state that the scam callers, affiliated with three London-based corporations, utilized fake names and British accents. Cleveland.com writes that they persuaded individuals to send personal checks through the mail. After the FBI warned scam victims to cancel checks they had mailed, the investment managers persuaded individuals to send money through wire transfer.
Alexander told authorities that he received $40,000 a year in compensation and says he took the role after his spouse became sick.