Fraudsters Rake In Millions with Faux French Wine

Father-and-son team used wax to make bottles look older

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This wine plot has undertones of chicanery and a hint of hoax.

French police uncovered a criminal scheme to sell fake vintage wine bottles that netted the swindlers almost $3 million, police said earlier this week. Two Italian wine merchants allegedly sold at least 400 fake bottles, and possibly many more, labeled with the high end Romanee-Conti mark — but filled with poor quality red wine, BBC reports.

Romanee-Conti, a pinot noir from Burgundy, is one of the world’s finest (and most expensive) wines. A 12-bottle case of the 1990 vintage sold for $297,000 at an auction in 2011.

Police say the fraudsters, a father-and-son team, used wax to make the bottles look older, turning them into near-perfect matches. But the poor taste apparently raised eyebrows and spawned the investigation, which extended to six countries.

France has requested the extradition of the two Italians, while several others have been arrested or questioned, according to the BBC.