Edinburgh, Mar.17 : The Italian mafia is targeting the rapidly growing fake antique whisky market in Scotland by selling counterfeit bottles for thousands of pounds online.
Though the industry has tried to clamp down on bogus bottles being sold in auction houses, The Scotsman quotes experts as saying that the trade has now moved to the Internet and describe it as a "faker's paradise".
Unwitting collectors are being fleeced after discovering the whisky they have bought is little more than modern-day spirits poured into old bottles.
Whisky enthusiast Serge Valentin has launched a website exposing the dubious trade after paying a "substantial" sum for a bottle of vintage whisky that turned out be a sophisticated forgery.
The Frenchman said the scam had been driven underground and online.
He said: "Internet auction sites like eBay have become a faker's paradise. You can buy old bottles, old labels, capsules and display boxes. There is nothing illegal about this, but obviously it can be misused by unscrupulous individuals."
Valentin said fake vintage whiskies online ranged from the downright crude to sophisticated forgeries.
His website, whiskyfun - features a rogue's gallery of dubious bottles.
Whisky writer Dave Broom says organised criminals may have put the fake whiskies on the market from Italy.
The bottles usually come from distilleries such as Bowmore, Macallan and Highland Park, he said.