Trading Standards stepping up illegal booze crackdown

Wonky labels and inconsistent fill levels are giveaways that these are fakes.
Wonky labels and inconsistent fill levels are giveaways that these are fakes.
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Trading Standards have stepped up their war against fake booze in the county after more illegal wine was found in raids.

They have also issued a top-ten of telltale signs so Lincolnshire Free Press readers – and traders – can check whether alcohol is smuggled or a potentially dangerous fake (see panel, right).

Fake brand 'Rocka' circulates here.

Fake brand 'Rocka' circulates here.

Senior trading standards officer Dan Brown said: “We will continue to target criminal behaviour, raiding premises based on intelligence supplied to us by members of the public and businesses alike.

“Therefore I would urge anyone with any information about who is selling illegal alcohol to get in touch and contact Crimestoppers.”

The latest raids were in Ingoldmells, near Skegness, where two shopkeepers with smuggled bottles of wine for sale were “shopped” by fellow traders, triggering a raid by police and trading standards.

Mr Brown said the bottles seized looked genuine: “The only giveaway was the price – £2.49.

“The cost of UK duty tax would be more than that on its own – so to offer it for sale at such a low price would mean that the retailer would be making a loss, so therefore it is likely to be contraband, fake or counterfeit. In this case the wine had been smuggled into the UK.

“This reckless practice puts honest businesses at risk and causes huge losses to the Government through tax loss.”

Samples from the 370 bottles of wine seized at Ingoldmells were sent for testing, which showed the bottles were all deficient in alcoholic strength compared to the description on the labels.

Following a hearing of East Lindsey’s Licensing Committee, both shops were given the equivalent of football’s yellow card – meaning they could lose their licences to sell alcohol if there is a repeat incident.

Top ten telltale signs that booze is fake

1 Spelling mistakes – Trading Standards have found names like Vodker and Pino Grigo

2 Wonky labels – labels are often skew-whiff on fakes

3 Broken seal – don’t buy; it could have been tampered with even if it isn’t illegal

4 Inconsistent fill level compared to similar bottles

5 Fake brand names – check names on Google

6 Sediment or white particles – these should not be present in spirits like vodka

7 Is there a proper UK duty paid sticker?

8 If the price is too good it’s probably a fake

9 Check barcodes – download an app on your phone to do this

10 Buy from a reputable store – Trading Standards say counterfeiters often sell to independent shops