Fake alcohol warning for New Year's Eve

Criminal gangs flood corner shops with fake booze

New Year revellers have been warned about potentially lethal booze as criminal gangs flood corner shops with fake alcohol.

Crooks sell counterfeit vodka, whisky, gin and brandy to struggling local shopkeepers so they can make cash over the festive period.

But the concoctions can blind, cause lasting organ damage and even kill.

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Teams in white vans are flogging cases of illicit vodka door-to-door and struggling shopkeepers eager to make a profit are funding the £1-billion-year trade.

But the booze – faked bottles of bargain brand Glenn's or a counterfeit version of premium drinks Absolut or Smirnoff - can be 51 per cent proof and contain a cocktail of highly dangerous chemicals like chloroform and methanol.

Tests on seized fake booze has found it also contained chemicals found in cleaning fluid, nail polish remover, paint stripper, petrol, drain cleaner and antifreeze.

Customs officers have seized about 750,000 litres of illegal spirits a year in raids and alarmingly found more than a quarter of licensed outlets in some areas were selling counterfeit alcohol.

The bottles sell for just £7 or £8 – a significant saving on legitimate makes – but drinkers can pay a far higher price for their cheap booze.

The booze is often produced by gangs in Eastern Europe - who are turning their backs on the riskier drugs trade to peddle drink.

Vodka is the most-found drink, but police and trading standards officers have also found faked Jacob's Creek wine.

Earlier this month £2million of fake designer gear and counterfeit alcohol was seized from East Midlands Airport.

Matthew Cope, Deputy Director of IP Enforcement at the Intellectual Property Office said: "Working with Border Force and rights holders in pre-Christmas intensification work at borders across the UK, £2m of goods destined for shops and markets have been detained, proving the worth of the co-ordinated approach.

"Anyone looking for a bargain this should be wary of prices which look too good to be true, from cut-price alcohol to heavily discounted electronics, and report anything suspicious."

Immigration Minister Robert Goodwill said: "The international trade in counterfeit goods undercuts honest traders, and is linked to serious and organised crime, sweatshop working practices, child labour, and even the funding of terrorism.

"Unsuspecting customers are also left out of pocket with inferior and potentially dangerous goods."

Victims of scams and fraud

Victims of scams and fraud

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