15 Jun 2012

Fine wine fraudster jailed

6:34 am on 15 June 2012

A man has been sentenced to prison for two years and four months for defrauding his friends and clients of more than $500,000 in fine wine sales.

Simon Mickleson, 43, pleaded guilty in the Auckland District Court on Thursday to multiple fraud charges totalling $542,919.22 while working at Webb's Auction House between 2007 and 2009.

Police received a number of complaints over Mickleson's dealings in New Zealand and overseas.

He offered wines at below market prices and, in most cases, failed to provide the product.

Mickleson also employed a graphic designer to alter images of wine bottles and cases by changing vintage years and types of wine to more valuable brands.

In many cases, he also diverted funds from sales to pay debts and fund personal expenses.

Police say some victims were badly damaged by Mickleson's actions.

Auckland CIB senior forensic accountant Peter Preece says people will now have second thoughts about buying wine from New Zealand.