September 13 ,2017 – Grimsby, England

Somalingam Vijayaruban, the shop owner of Today’s Express located on Chelmsford Avenue, in Grimbsy, England was sentenced to 12 months of community service and ordered to pay £1,100 towards the cost of the investigation for selling counterfeit vodka.

Mr. Vijayaruban became known to investigators when a woman informed them that she had purchased a bottle of vodka from Today’s Express on December 2, 2017. The woman informed Trading Standards officers at North East Lincolnshire Council that when she opened the bottle of Chekov Vodka it did not smell right. Unfazed by the unusual smell the woman drank the vodka. The next morning, she awoke with bladder pain that lasted for days. She then contacted officials

Officers visited the Chelmsford Aveune store and confiscated 10 bottles of Chekov and upon testing found that the bottles contained a very high concentration of alcohol and an organic agricultural chemical. The shop owner continued to assure officials that the vodka was bought through approved wholesalers. Investigators could not verify the purchase from Today’s Express from an approved distributor. Through interrogation, it was learned from Somalingam Vijayaruban that he did in fact obtain the fake vodka from other than approved sources.

Although appearing to be a small price to pay for selling counterfeit vodka that could have resulted in deadly consequences, Court officials and Trading Standards manager Neil Clark seemed pleased with the finding of guilty and the sentence imposed upon the shopkeeper. Mr. Clark used the guilty verdict and sentencing to educate the public concerning counterfeit alcohol. Mr. Clark warned that the sign is the price, if something is too cheap, something is wrong. In this example, the normal selling price of Chekov Vodka would be about $12, which includes £9 Duty and VAT, yet this shop was selling it for £10.

The other vital warning in the case should never be ignored. When you open a bottle of liquor, if it doesn’t smell proper, don’t consume it. With the surge in counterfeit vodka around the world, a small sip should be taken to make sure it tastes like the liquor purchased and does not have a chemical taste.

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