In which I talk (more) about wine fraud, this time on television
Every since I wrote Tangled Vines, I have become somewhat of a specialist on wine fraud. It’s not that hard to do given that wine crime is a growing industry. Every week, it seems, some merchant or wine maker or thief tries a new way to steal wine and sell it on the black or gray market.
In 2015 and 2016, I wrote many stories for Berkeleyside, the website I co-founded, on John Fox, who ran one of the world’s largest wine Ponzi schemes. He ran a fine wine store in Berkeley named Premier Cru and did a brisk business selling wine futures: i.e. wines still aging in barrels.
It turns out that Fox had been pocketing some of the money instead of actually buying the wine he promised. His scheme fell apart in late 2015 and the feds charged him in 2016 with wire fraud. He is serving six and a half years at Lompoc for embezzling at least $25 million from his customers. running a wine Ponzi scheme. He had collected money to buy those futures but he had never purchased them. Instead, Fox spent millions of fast cars, meeting women on line, and sending his daughter to college.
Fox spent millions of dollars on fast cars, (he owned Ferraris, Mercedes Benzes, Corvettes and more) on meeting women on line, and sending his daughter to college.
The tv show American Greed is doing an episode that focuses on Fox. It airs on CNBC on Aug. 7 and in the following weeks. I was interviewed for the show. Here are some clips: