Mon | Aug 21, 2017

Fighting fraudsters - Wray & Nephew clamping down on counterfeit rum and cheques

Published:Sunday | May 7, 2017 | 5:00 AMCorey Robinson
ACP Clifford Chambers points to fake Wray & Nephew rum among other counterfeit goods seized by the police.

Internationally renowned spirit manufacturer J. Wray & Nephew is moving to assure its customers that it is taking steps to prevent fraudulent bottles of its products from hitting the market.

The company is also urging Jamaicans to be on the lookout for fraudulent cheques drawn on its name.

Days after the police Counter-Terrorism and Organised Crime Investigation Branch (C-TOC) revealed that organised criminals were using a makeshift distillery to turn deadly chemicals into counterfeit rum, Wray & Nephew published advertisements warning consumers about fraudulent cheques being issued bearing its name.

 

UPDATED SECURITY MECHANISMS

 

Chloleen Daley-Muschett, public affairs manager at the company, said businesses in at least two parishes have already been hit by the fraudsters, but the company's updated security mechanism has already resulted in arrests and persons being dragged to court.

According to Daley-Muschett, there have been recent instances of fraudulent payroll cheques presented for encashment at wholesales and other small businesses.

"To our knowledge, cheques have been presented to, and negotiated by, unsuspecting businesses in St Elizabeth and Kingston," said Daley-Muschett, as she noted that the value of the cheques has been relatively small.

In addition to enforcing strict internal processes, routine audits and inspections, the liquor company said it is fast-tracking its move to cashless transactions, and limiting the number of transactions for which cheques can be issued.

The company said it is also working closely with the police to detect and report instances of fraud involving its products.

Late last month, several drums of fake rum were found in a makeshift distillery, allegedly being operated by an organised criminal network.

Deputy Superintendent Carl Berry of C-TOC said the fraudsters were using a process to turn other chemicals used for cleaning into rum-like beverages.

Several barrels of the liquid were destroyed as part of $1.9 billion worth of counterfeit goods seized by the police last year.

Truckloads of the confiscated goods, including products being sold as Wray & Nephew rum, were destroyed at the Riverton City landfill in Kingston.

Last week, Daley-Muschett told our news team that the company is constantly monitoring the market to identify illicit products bearing its brand.

She said where these are identified, the information is turned over to the police.

"The company is also proactive about reducing the illicit reproduction of Wray & Nephew white overproof rum and has upgraded the packaging to include a tamper-evident red branded seal as well as special no-refillable caps to protect consumers and to deter potential counterfeiters," added Daley-Muschett.

corey.robinson@gleanerjm.com