Be Wary of the Slickster Offering Rare Wine investment Opportunities

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Nick Antonaccio
Nick Antonaccio

“Hello, this is Mr. Tsitra Macs from Fine and Rare Wine Investments. May I speak to Mr. or Mrs. B. Boomer?”

“This is Mr. Boomer.”

“Good evening, sir. I understand you are presently retired.”

“Yes, I am; been retired for nearly 20 years. Please say again who you are and why you are calling me?”

“It’s Mr. Macs, Tsitra Macs. I would like to present you with an investment opportunity you may be interested in.”

“Oh no you don’t. I’ve heard all about telephone scams. My children tell me never to speak to strangers or accept offers from them.”

“Please don’t hang up, sir. I have a unique opportunity for you. It’s not anything you’ve ever been offered before. And it will take just a few minutes of your time, and best of all, there’s no obligation. Do you have a retirement investment portfolio?”

“Well, yes. But I’m very conservative in my investment decisions.”

“I understand. Stocks are volatile, especially if you’re on a fixed income and can’t afford being caught in the wild swings of the bond and equity markets. I have an alternative investment tailored just for you. Do you enjoy wine? Ever consider investing in fine wines, but you thought it was out of reach?”

“Well, frankly my wife and I have recently upped our fine wine appreciation. One of our children is a Wall Street investment banker and has introduced us to fine, but very expensive, French and Italian wines. We really enjoy them, but they are all outside our budget.”

“Well then, this investment is perfect for you. Our wine portfolio has been carefully curated to include a number of expensive, rare wines that are the envy of every Wall Streeter. By purchasing a share in this portfolio, you will enjoy the appreciation in the value of these sought after wines and, as an extra added bonus, you will have access to draw on these fine wines as a return on your investment. They won’t deplete your fixed income cash flow; instead, consider them a dividend on your initial investment.”

“Wait a second, this sounds too good Mr. Macs.”

“We’ve taken care of the risk and endless choices that have kept you from investing. We are a world-class, highly reputable firm that offers you the security and expertise you’ve been looking for. And the returns are amazing, anywhere from 10% to 40% annually.”

“Hmm, this sounds like the type of investment my wife and I are interested in, Mr. Macs. And we can impress our children. Send me the enrollment information.”

“I can do better than that, Mr. Boomer. I can sign you up right over the telephone. And to expedite your investment returns, I can also take your banking information over the phone for your initial $10,000 investment.”

“OK, I’m in. I want to tell my friends about this, so please spell your name for me.”

“Of course. It’s Tsitra Macs.” (Note: spell his name backwards.)

Does this sound like a public service message to educate seniors on potential frauds? Not at all.

This type of scam is proliferating. Just last week, I read of such a scam perpetrated on unsuspecting British seniors. Police arrested three men for telephone fraud. As you might expect, none of the touted wines were held by the scammers. While the extent of the fraud is still unknown, at least 39 victims have contacted authorities, reporting combined losses of $1.2 million, and counting.

These are scams of the ultimate sort: scammers seeking to part a fool from his and her money. It’s the ultimate expression of “dialing for dollars” – real dollars!

The irony in all of these successful scams is the gullibility of our seniors. In spite of exhortations from family and friends, the lure of supplementing fixed income or replenishing/replacing retirement nest eggs can trump financial sensibilities. Remember the ages-old adage about investing. If it sounds too good to be true …

Nick Antonaccio is a 40-year Pleasantville resident. For over 20 years he has conducted numerous wine tastings and lectures. Nick is a member of the Wine Media Guild of wine writers. He also offers personalized wine tastings and wine travel services. Nick’s credo: continuous experimenting results in instinctive behavior. You can reach him at or on Twitter @sharingwine.

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