The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) is launching a prevention unit to crackdown on fraud in the wine and spirits sectors.
The unit will work with police and customs to combat actual or suspected fraudulent activity within the trade including identity theft , counterfeiting to wine investment fraud.
The unit, which currently has around 20 members is open to all WSTA members to join. The unit will focus on collating information to present to the police on fraudulent activities, will issue information to warn members about fraud as well as provide guidelines to help business be vigilant against criminal activity.
The new unit meets the requirements of the Information Commissioners Office and Data Protection Act for the sharing of information amongst businesses.
Operation Sterling, the Metropolitan Police economic prevention and disruption unit, is working closely with the WSTA on the initiative.
Acting detective superintendent Nick Downing said: "We would advise those considering investing money, whether it be a small or large amount, to do their research and be sure that the companies or individuals they are dealing with are reputable and legitimate."
WSTA chief executive Jeremy Beadles said: "It's not just consumers who suffer from fraud, it's also damaging to legitimate businesses within the trade and we want to ensure we are taking every possible step to combat the problem.
"Our new unit provides a real focus to our work in this area and enables responsible businesses to legally share information so that we can help the authorities."