London con artist sentenced over $13m wine and whiskey investment scam that targeted older Americans

Casey Alexander from the UK got three years probation after pleading guilty to wire fraud (via Daily Mail Online)
Casey Alexander from the UK got three years probation after pleading guilty to wire fraud (via Daily Mail Online)

A man from the United Kingdom has been given three years’ probation for a $13m wine and whiskey scam that affected more than 150 victims, many of them elderly, in the United States.

More than two years after his arrest, Casey Alexander, 27, of London, has been sentenced after pleading guilty to wire fraud.

In a substantial fraud scheme, Alexander and others involved in the conspiracy would cold call people, mostly targeting elderly investors in the US, according to a release from The Northern District of Ohio’s US Attorney’s Office.

Officials said they would use “aggressive” and “deceptive” tactics during the calls, promising significant returns to the victims if they invested in wine and whiskey.

The scammers told the victims they could buy a “portfolio” of fine wines and whiskeys on their behalf, hold the purchases in a bonded warehouse in Europe, then sell them on at a profit.

Alexander and his team were able to convince elderly people across the US to wire funds or to make checks out to one or more “suspect companies” so they could get a piece of the investment opportunities they were offering.

After the victims made their initial investments, the scammers encouraged them to continue investing in wine and whiskey, with the promise of greater returns.

In a promotional video obtained by the Daily Mail, a person the investigators identify as Alexander, from Hackney, in east London, is smartly dressed in a suit as he taste-tests whiskeys and tours the exterior of a distillery for his company Vintage Whisky Casks. The company claims to be a “specialist in sourcing the most difficult to find and rarest single malt Scotch whisky casks,” according to the outlet.

However, the racket unwound after an 89-year-old victim’s son told the Highland Heights Police Department in 2020 that his parent was being scammed, and that the company had defrauded the victim out of more than $300,000 over 18 months.

The department then discovered similar complaints dotted around the United States, with people reporting being victims of a “wine scam” after being asked to purchase wine as an investment.

The case was taken up by the FBI, who have to date found more than 150 US victims. The victims had, in total, invested more than $13m in the fraud.

The FBI said at the time of Alexander’s arrest on June 14, 2022 (he was subsequently released on a $50,000 bond) that none of the victims received their returns.

Among them, a 73-year-old from Grandville, Michigan, wired $25,560 believing she was investing in rare wines, according to an affidavit. After being promised a return, she invested a further $60,000 in the scheme, saying that the person sounded very convincing, NBC News reported in 2022.

Court documents say Alexander met one investor in person to persuade them to buy from Vintage Whisky Casks. The victim mailed a check for $100,000, the affidavit states, but the check was canceled in time after the BFI contacted the victim.

Alongside his probation, Alexander was ordered by a US district judge to pay $202,195.58 in restitution for his role in the scam.