Pryagraj: More than 1200 bottles of counterfeit liquor bottles were seized by the excise department. Officials have been conducting raids at various places following tip-offs about fake or illicit liquor following the incident of deaths by poisonous liquor at Barabanki. In this raid police not only seized the bottles but equipment used in packing and sealing them. This included sealing machine, duplicate QR codes and labels of popular brands. It would not be a surprize that counterfeiters were able to scan and re-produce the QR codes easily with the help of openly available software and commonly used printers.
Among seized were 35 cartons of branded whiskey, which was being used to mix with spurious material to increase the capacity and make fakes of the brand. 25 cartons of whiskey of another popular brand was also seized along with 1200 bottles of halfs, one big ready roll of fake QR code, two machines used to seal the bottle caps, 300 caps of different brands and another set of 6000 ready QR codes.
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As per officials of the excise department, accused would bring liquor from Madhya Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab at lower prices and resale it mixing with spurious material. They get a quarter of whiskey for around Rs. 25 from other states, whereas the cost of the same quarter is around Rs. 65 here. It is a high profit making business when further mixed with spurious liquids. Counterfeiters would make anywhere from Rs. 40 to 100 margin on sale of a bottle. It is to be noted that the main operatives of the gang already escaped by the time raid took place, which also creates suspicion around how a large scale syndicate can operate without getting noticed by local authorities.
Counterfeit liquor is a worldwide problem. Russia, 43,000 counterfeit liquor bottles were seized without carrying stamps of excise stamp. It is not limited to brands that are sold in scale, where seizures like above do not make difference to the overall sale or revenues of the manufacturer. Small quantities do not persuade them to setup strong measures for preventing the sale of fakes. Not just the cheaper products like off-the-shelf bottles, counterfeiting is rampant at second market as well, where thugs sell very refined but duplicate liquor of the collectibles.
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It is estimated that second market business has around $41 million USD worth of fake in circulation, which their owners are not aware of. So, whether a consumer is rich or poor, both may be consuming spurious liquid in the name of the products they trust in and putting their lives at risk.