Massive Malaga wine fraud uncovered

Counterfeit Malaga wine scam uncovered

Counterfeit Malaga wine. Credit: Guardia

In a recent crackdown, authorities have uncovered a fraudulent operation in which more than 18,400 bottles of wine were falsely marketed under designation of origin Malaga.

The Guardia Civil, guided by the Superior Prosecutor’s Office of La Rioja and the Agri-Food Quality Control Service of the Department of Agriculture of La Rioja, uncovered a substantial food fraud, according to a report published on Tuesday, March 12.

The operation took place in La Rioja, Spain, where investigators found over 18,400 bottles of wine falsely labelled with the Malaga designation of origin.

Three individuals have been linked to a scheme that defrauded consumers out of more than €227,000.

The investigation begins

The inquiry was sparked by a complaint from a representative of the Malaga wine designation of origin. This led to the discovery of the sale of white wine, prominently featuring the name ‘Manilva’,  a term reserved exclusively for wines registered with its regulatory council.

The Guardia Civil’s environmental service, Seprona, conducted a detailed investigation into the labels and packaging, tracing the fraudulent activity back to La Rioja-based bottling companies. The products were primarily sold through online wine platforms.

Fraudulent scheme

Analysis showed that the wines in question did not contain 100 per cent Muscat of Alexandria grapes, contrary to the requirements of the Malaga wine designation. Instead, they were made predominantly from lower quality grapes from the La Rioja region.

The Guardia Civil uncovered the method of the fraudsters, which involved a salesperson to market the wine under protected terms like ‘Certified Denomination of Origin’ (DOC Vinos de Fincas) without the necessary registrations or authorisations, leading customers to believe they were purchasing genuine Malaga wine.

Legal action

The operation, named ‘Utrem,’ has led to three people being investigated for crimes against industrial property, document forgery, market and consumer fraud.

The Guardia Civil’s efforts have highlighted the importance of vigilance in protecting the integrity of designation of origin labels and the rights of consumers.

With collaboration between various authorities, the scheme was brought to light, ensuring that wine enthusiasts can trust the origin of their next bottle.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.