TSU, MIE PREF. – Police arrested two men Tuesday for allegedly selling fakes of Suntory Spirits’s limited-edition 30-year-old Hibiki whisky via a flea market app.
The men, who both work at an antique shop, are suspected of infringing upon the trademark of Suntory Holdings, the parent company of Suntory Spirits, as well as cheating a man in Sendai out of ¥990,000.
Takeaki Nemoto, 29, and Yu Sasagawa, 26, both from Tokyo, were arrested by the Mie Prefectural Police on suspicion of fraud and violating the trademark act.
The two have admitted to selling the products, but they denied some of the charges, saying that they had no intention of deceiving anyone, according to sources.
They allegedly sold a total of five counterfeits of Hibiki 30 Years on four occasions via the Mercari app, operated by Mercari Inc., to a 29-year-old male corporate employee, around June-July last year.
According to Suntory’s website, the company only makes a few thousand bottles of Hibiki 30 Years every year and the whisky costs ¥125,000 a bottle.
Market prices for Hibiki 30 Years are rising steeply, due to the increased popularity of Japanese whiskies.
According to sources, including those at a police station in Yokkaichi, Mie Prefecture, the boxes and the bottles of the fake products were from authentic Hibiki 30 Years, but the contents had been replaced.
The police station is investigating the source of the counterfeit whiskies.
It received a tip-off from a man living in Mie Prefecture regarding the fake whisky in around July.