FAQ

What is WineFraud.com?

WineFraud.com is a one of a kind resource with education and information about wine counterfeiting and wine authentication. There are corresponding resources of photo galleries including authentic and counterfeit examples of labels, ink, print, paper, corks, capsules and glass, and extensive information about vintages and producers as they relate to being counterfeited, counterfeit evidence including detailed notes on that evidence with, at times, graphic depictions of all the things counterfeiters got wrong. We at WineFraud.com are constantly updating the site with further information and resources to assist those interested in learning about all aspects of wine fraud and how to authenticate fine and rare wines.

As of 1st November, 2016, WineFraud.com included:

  • 2,923 photo galleries
  • 22,407 photos on the site
  • 65 Blogs
  • 21 Sections on How to Authenticate Wine
  • 170 Other Fraud Stories
  • 745 individual pages up on the site
  • 11 contributors
  • Members from 11 countries on 4 continents


Is Maureen Downey Monetizing a Public Resource for Personal/Private Gain by Having Rudy Kurniawan Evidence behind the Paywall?

ABSOLUTELY NOT. It is wholly inaccurate to think that Ms. Downey took publicly available information and is asking people to pay to access to it. For starters – Anyone who wants can submits a FOIA request for the trial evidence in the Rudy K trial can do so. They will receive a CD with copies of some of the evidence used in the trial.

Ms. Downey asked to spend a significant amount of time with the physical evidence, so that it could be catalogued, label-by-label, and bottle-by-bottle, by herself and her team. Had any other professional asked, they too would have been granted the same access, but the fact is that no one else asked. No other person, business or team took the opportunity, the time, or invested the significant resources, to thoroughly catalogue the evidence, including professionally photographing all the bottles and most labels, stamps, and other counterfeit supplies, which were seized from Rudy Kurniawan’s home at the time of his arrest. It is notable that despite all the press coverage, she was the ONLY wine professional to take advantage of the DOJ’s access to the evidence the day after the guilty verdict.

What she did do, is spend significant time and resources to make sure that all the information contained in the evidence did not simply disappear into a storage facility in the mid-west, where it now resides, before being meticulously catalogued. The result of her efforts and investment, is an important, detailed resource of information that enables interested/vested parties, wine collectors and vendors of fine wines, to more easily identify and remove Kurniawan bottles from the market.

As of 1st November, 2016, the Rudy Kurniawan Section on WineFraud.com comprised 21% of the total content on the site including:

  • 15 Articles (14 of which are trial coverage by Siobhan Turner)
  • 43 Pages of photos
  • 4,743 Individual Photos


Further, Ms. Downey’s analysis of the evidence, i.e. marked up labels pointing out all the tells, and all the things he got wrong, has become an invaluable resource to the many member collectors, retailers, brokers, and auction specialists who rely on the information to ensure they are not buying, consigning and selling the $550mill worth of counterfeits that are still circulating in the market.

“WineFraud.com is an invaluable resource for those in the investment grade wine business.  Maureen has created an incredible site that assists those of us dedicated to stamping out fraud in our industry.  If you’re serious about wine authentication, this is the only place.”

Warren Porter, IronGate Wine

 

What Does WineFraud.com do?

Recognizes the Problem

Wine counterfeiting and wine fraud are affecting all levels of all wine markets today. From the $5000 bottle of ancient Bordeaux, to the $20 bottle of rosé at the grocery store, all types and price points of wines are being counterfeited. Stories of major wine thefts from restaurants, private collections, retailers, storage facilities and even producers are in the news weekly. Stolen and counterfeit bottles are out in the market today being sold by unscrupulous and unaware vendors. The Kurniawan and Rodenstock counterfeits continue to circulate from victim to victim. Brands are being damaged and collectors are, justly, losing faith that the wine industry is looking out for their best interest because frankly too many vendors are simply not.

Offers Solutions & the Resources to Combat Wine Fraud

Maureen Downey and her team of esteemed experts have created a solution: A membership based website, WineFraud.com. WineFraud.com is the first-ever in print or online resource, where wine vendors, producers and consumers can learn about all aspects and details of counterfeit wines, wine frauds, how to authenticate bottles, current anti-fraud technologies and their usefulness, and what is happening in the world of wine fraud so they too can be part of the solution, and no longer victims, or accomplices of these crimes.

Galleries of both counterfeit and authentic wine bottles, labels, ink and print examples, capsules and corks, as well as extensive counterfeit evidence and documentation from known wine counterfeiters and wine fraudsters are all available to members, making winefraud.com membership an invaluable resource to producers, vendors, consultants, and collectors alike, and all for a membership fee that is less than the purchase or sale of just one counterfeit bottle annually.

“The site is equivalent to an online course in authentication, with readily available resources members can refer back to and use to make sure they are making sound selling and buying decisions,” says WineFraud.com founder, Maureen Downey



What Kind of Content is on WineFraud.com?

WineFraud.com features constantly updated news stories about all types of wine fraud as reported from around the world, often with commentary from our experts, as well as blog posts about how wine fraud affects the many aspects of the wine industry and our lives. Articles from the top wine authenticators in the world educate members about the details of different aspects of a wine bottle, how counterfeiters try to fool consumers and what to look for in each aspect of a bottle while authenticating wine. To assist in the learning and practicing of wine authentication, we have included a checklist that can be downloaded so members can authenticate using the same systematic approach that the Chai Consulting experts use when authenticating wines.

Our extensive photo galleries of authentic and known counterfeit bottles are from wines that have been inspected and found either authentic, or counterfeit by our team and our colleagues. The labels, ink and print, and cork and capsule examples are all from the extensive Chai Consulting database and represent regular, professional and even microscope images taken by the Chai Consulting team. These images are available exclusively at WineFraud.com and are sourced from our own team and within our trusted network.

It is our vision that the educational information, images and resources are to be used to assist in the learning and training of the artful skill that is wine authentication.

 

How Detailed is the Information on WineFraud.com?

Are There Diagrams of Bottles Showing Specifically Why They are Authentic or Counterfeit?

In some instances we do specifically point out what the counterfeiter got wrong on specific bottles, labels, capsules and corks including for much of the Kurniawan evidence, on some of the alleged Rodenstock bottles, Rouabah bottles and other really bad examples of counterfeits. In many instances, we cannot show a specific bottle or label and point out everything to look for highlighted with an explanation on why it is considered authentic or counterfeit.  We do not publish this information for a couple of reasons.

The first, there are differences in labels that go out to different markets. WineFraud.com is a resource for people in all markets. Therefore, to be completely accurate to all of our members, we do not want consumers to have opinions on a bottle’s authenticity over regional parities. This is one more reason supporting the fact that authentication is an art, not a science.

The second reason is that it would be counterproductive to our mission of protecting producers. To spell out everything that might be right and wrong on a given bottle or label could create a roadmap for counterfeiters, and leave the producers vulnerable to protecting their brands. Working closely with producers to help protect their brands is at the core of our philosophy, our mission and our ability to provide the best authentication services possible. To publish a cheat sheet of data about the many changes producers have made throughout the years, and the anti-fraud technologies and measures specific producers are employing or have employed at given times, will leave the producers left with no way to thwart potential counterfeiters in the future, and therefore some details cannot be published.

 

How Do I Learn What is Counterfeit on a Label or Bottle?

To help aid our members in seeing what our authenticators see, we provide the “top 3 flags” our experts noted in deeming a particular bottle in the counterfeit gallery, counterfeit, so members can see what about those bottles caught our eye, or made us determine the bottles counterfeit.

We are updating the Kurniawan evidence section with detailed notes on all the labels, stamps and other physical evidence seized from his home, which was inspected and photographed by the Chai Consulting team. There are corresponding marked up photographs pointing out the “tells” and errors Kurniawan made on different pieces of his counterfeit production. Due to the immense amount of physical evidence seized and inspected by our team, it will take us some time to get this all out, but we are working through it and publishing it on the site as quickly as we can.

We also suggest that members utilize the extensive educational tools and unparalleled, and ever growing resources to learn what to look for in terms of glass, paper, print, ink, glue, glass, capsules and corks. If members follow the information on authentication, and learn what to look for, combined with information from the galleries of counterfeit bottles and evidence, many of the counterfeit tells and inconsistencies will become apparent- and that is the goal.



How Can I Learn the Specific Details of Producers’ Anti-Fraud Measures That You Do Not Show on the Site?

Some information about minor changes to packaging and labeling including micro-writing, invisible ink, holograms, capsule and cork changes and anti-fraud measures utilized by producers is too sensitive to put on the website. This is information that we will share with trainees in Authentication Training Seminars and workshops, where we have more freedom to share sensitive information with would be/will be authenticators.


What if I Need More Information on a Particular Bottling than What is Available on WineFraud.com?

Members who have specific questions for which resources needed to address specific concerns are not available on the website are more than welcome to make inquiries, and we will assist with information and hopefully find resolutions to any requests. We hope you understand this delicate balance we must strike between educating people on how to spot counterfeits, and protecting producers.


Can I Download Information and Images From WineFraud.com?

No. We have intentionally set up the website to be view only, and copying text and downloading images is not permitted. All data on this website is copyright protected and encrypted to protect from unauthorized use and dissemination.

This is an Anti-Fraud website, we expect that unauthorized use of our proprietary images, copy, or other materials is not an issue. Please read the Terms of Use for details and other conditions.

Despite our need to protect our information and data, we are available to assist Members with their educational goals, as well as their needs for seeking remuneration for bad purchases. Should you need to view large images, use images in a report or if you would like to quote our copy, please contact us at info@winefraud.com, and we will try and accommodate your requests.


Who is Wine Fraud.com?




WineFraud.com is the collaboration of a team of professionals and experts in the following fields:

  • Fine & Rare Wine Experts: Contribute fundamental information and education about wine in general as well as fine & rare wines that are, or might be counterfeited.

  • Wine Authentication Experts: Essential information, tips and training on how to be an authenticator from experts Including Maureen Downey, Michael Egan, Siobhan Turner and Sheri Morano, MW.

  • Large Wine Production Experts: Contribute important information on the counterfeiting, adulteration and intentional mislabeling of large production wines across the globe.

  • Supply Chain Experts: Contribute critical information on the areas of weakness and potential fraud in different areas of the supply chain.

  • Legal and Law Enforcement Opinions and Experiences: Contribute information about what has occurred in the past and valuable information to producers, vendors and other trade members about how they can protect their brands, and their customers.

  • Sommeliers & Hospitality Experts: Aaron Patrick, an esteemed sommelier from San Francisco who has recently joined the Chai Consulting and WineFraud.com teams, and at times his respected colleagues will share insights into the impact of wine fraud on restaurants and hotels and tips and points to sommeliers, and beverage and restaurant managers to avoid being victims or indeed unwittingly victimizing their clientele.

  • Journalists: Contribute expertly written depth producer profiles, articles about issues and happenings affecting the world of wine, and short quips about current events or commentary on wine fraud stories in the news.

    This variety of knowledge contributes to WineFraud.com’s unique offering of providing our members with a unique resource on all sectors of the wine industry.


Statistics & Facts:

  • Collectors who have purchased at auction or through retail and brokers in the past 15 years, have very likely purchased counterfeits. If a collector has spent a large amount of money, they have almost certainly purchased counterfeits. (Especially those who purchased heavily at auction, or from retailers and brokers who sold large amounts of Rudy Kurniawan, Eric Greenberg and other known counterfeit sources of wine!)

  • Rudy Kurniawan sold at least $130million dollars of wine at the time of sale, much of that being counterfeit. This could represent as much as $550million in the market today. Very little of his wine has been removed and destroyed! Most of it continues to be resold, even when returned to vendors by buyers who know they have been defrauded.

  • Retailers, Auctioneers & Brokers the world over have turned the resale of returned counterfeit wine into a cottage industry: In the wake of the Kurniawan conviction, we have seen an uptick, not a downward trend in the sale of counterfeits as well as an increase in auction houses and other vendors blatantly lying about the provenance of their offerings.

  • UK’s Intellectual Property Office estimates that one in five outlets for wine are selling counterfeit wine and/or liquor.

  • At least half the Chateau Lafite sold in China is fake. Source: Xinshi Li, President of the Chinese Academy of Inspection and Quarantine.

  • 20% of wine sold on global market may be fake, according to Sud Ouest, November 2013.

Annual Membership at WineFraud.com is cheaper than buying or selling just one counterfeit bottle of wine.


What are the different levels of Membership?

  • Enthusiast
  • Professional

 



Can I Share A Membership With a Friend or Colleague?

No. Membership at WineFraud.com is for individual users. This is a website about battling fraud, so we would hope that our members do not defraud us by sharing log-in credentials with non-members.

We have taken security measures to protect against people sharing memberships. If we see irregular activity, or activity that is inconsistent with a single user, an account may be frozen until the irregularities are addressed with the member. Please read the Terms of Use for details and other conditions.


Benefits of Membership:

  • Authentication Education
  • Expert Information
  • Unparalleled Resources
  • Constantly Updated Information: Website Updates with breaking news stories of wine thefts, bad sources of wine and other discovered frauds popping up across the globe, often with commentary from our experts.
  • Email Alerts (Professional Members only) regarding fraudulent sale offers and transactions and misstated provenance or blatant provenance misrepresentations, or other fraudulent happenings in the markets that professionals need to be apprised of immediately.
  • Bi-Monthly Site Updates to keep content fresh and relevant, covering aspects such as:
    • Counterfeiting trends and sources of bad bottles.
    • Newly discovered counterfeiting techniques and their sources.
    • Updated information about the tools and techniques used by experts to authenticate wines.
    • Additions to the Rudy Kurniawan evidence including detailed explanations of the labels, bottles, stamps, and other evidence with detailed notes and graphic depictions of the tells of his work.
    • Additions to the galleries of Counterfeit Bottles, Labels, Ink & Print, Corks & Capsules including actual counterfeit evidence discovered by our experts in the field.
    • Additions to the galleries of Authentic Bottles, Labels, Ink & Print, Corks & Capsules.
    • Coverage of current events in the markets related to wine fraud, including theft, adulteration, and mislabeling of bulk wines, IP infringement, and counterfeiting from the legal, the investigative, and the authenticator’s perspectives as well as anti-counterfeiting measures and technologies.
  • Quarterly In The Loupe® segments with in-depth coverage on a specific topics germane to various aspects of wine and wine authentication.
  • Professional Members have use of the Member Badge to market their education about wine authentication and the issues of wine fraud, and that they are therefore uniquely a firm that can be trusted to sell or consult about fine & rare wine.
  • Professional Members can attend WineFraud.com Presentations at no additional charge.

Authentication Services & Input of Authentic bottles into the block chain based, Database of Authentics™ we are developing with our partner, details of which are soon to be announced.



What if I Need Bottles Inspected?

If you need physical inspection of wines we have strategic storage partners in locations throughout the world where you can arrange to have your wines shipped to their temperature and humidity controlled facilities to ensure optimal conditions during the inspection process. We even have preferred shippers to help you with logistics.



 

Where do I Ship Wines for Physical Inspection?

Here is a list of our storage partners and the location where wine can be shipped to be inspected by one of WineFraud.com’s authentication experts, after you have made proper arrangements with wine fraud.com to inspect the bottles:

  • Oeno Vaults: Sonoma, California (United States)
  • Classic Wine Storage & Services: Dallas, Texas (United States)
  • Artisan Wine Storage: London, England
  • Artisan Wine Storage: Hong Kong (Coming Soon)

Please contact us at info@winefraud.com for more information about authentication services and arrangements to inspect your wines.



 

Will You Come to Me to Inspect My Bottles?

Yes – we will travel to clients at their request, anywhere in the world. In many cases, if a client has many bottles, or particularly frail bottles, we often suggest traveling to the bottles as that can be better than having the bottles travel to one of our inspection centers.



 

I Have Counterfeit Wine, Can You Advise on Steps for Remuneration and Legal Remedies?

Absolutely. To date, Maureen Downey and WineFraud.com’s parent company, Chai Consulting has an amazing success rate of achieving remuneration for clients that have been sold counterfeit wines, almost always without having to take the situations to court.



 

Are You Training Future Counterfeiters?

Any time you are giving information to a large audience, as much as you are doing so for the correct reasons, it can be used for nefarious aims.

The type and quality of information we are sharing is a broad education about counterfeits, what counterfeiters do, how to spot them, and how to protect buying and selling counterfeits, or against being counterfeited.  The examples used are real-life examples from past counterfeiters, and new examples as we discover them in the market.

The need for this information to be disseminated to the wine professionals and enthusiasts across the globe is enormous.  Therefore, in our opinion, the benefits to the industry and consumers outweighs any possible assistance to would-be counterfeiters

It is also important to note that there are many small details we do not include on the website. Just like a great chef, we leave out small aspects of the inspection or information we look for that help us determine a real vs a counterfeit bottle. We are incredibly mindful of producers’ efforts to add anti-counterfeiting aspects to their packaging, and we will not be sharing this information on the site. But will include some of it in in-person training sessions.

WineFraud.com is an education resource, but it is being carefully crafted so that it is not a how-to for would-be counterfeiters. We hope that it can help train a new generation of authenticators such that counterfeiting becomes a much harder thing to do in the future.



 

Is Maureen Downey Putting Herself Out of a Job By Creating This Website?

In short, no.  There are many people, both consumers and professionals, who will be helped by this website. We see this as a way to help more people across the globe become aware of the issues of wine fraud and the basics of wine authentication, than it is currently possible to do in person

It is our goal to give the industry and consumers the tools they need to protect their transactions and ultimately create a healthier, more educated, and more transparent marketplace. And one with far fewer bad venders selling counterfeit wines!



Where Are You Located?

WineFraud.com is an online presence with contributors all over the globe. We have inspection locations in in the U.S., Europe and Asia. Our offices are in San Francisco and London, but our contributors are from all markets.

 

Are you available if I have questions about the content on the site?

We most certainly are. If you have any questions please feel free to email us at info@winefraud.com.



Can I report a possible counterfeit or wine fraud scam?

You can by sending us an email at info@winefraud.com. We would also encourage you to contact your local, state or federal authorities.



Will my membership auto renew?

As long as we have a valid credit card on file in your membership account, yes the membership will auto-renew.