Champagne con loses fizz

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The Independent Online
A company that tried to con gullible investors into thinking there was money to be made out of expensive Champagne has been closed by the courts at the request of the Department of Trade and Industry, it announced yesterday.

Forrester & Lamego, based in London, was taken to court by the DTI in February accused of selling low-grade Champagne and port at inflated prices. It said the claims made by the company, which has also been declared insolvent, had now been proved to be "exaggerated and misleading".

The High Court heard the company had exploited fears of a pre-millennial Champagne drought to sell its products, and cheated thousands of customers in the process.

It also claimed to be a "vintner of distinction", whereas it was set up last year, and employed eight unskilled telesales staff.

Consumer Affairs minister Nigel Griffiths said it was "imperative" that companies trying to con the public knew that the DTI would be in hot pursuit. And he warned "fledgling investors" not to be fooled by get-rich-quick schemes.

Those that have come to light recently include bogus ostrich farms and illegal lotteries similar to the pyramid selling schemes that brought Albania to the brink of collapse earlier this year.