Art Student Door to Door Scam - Be Careful!

10 years ago...

Hi all,

I live in the St James' Development and have recently been victim of a very plausible art scam. I don't want anybody else to be effected so thought I would sign up here to let you all know so you can pass the word.

Last week, a mid-twenties female knocked at the door around 6pm and asked if she could show us her art. To cut a long story short the story is that they are European/US students trying to sell art to make money to open a gallery in London. She shows a portfolio of around 50 oil paintings and goes through them in great detail. She appears very knowledgeable, and friendly and eventually gets to the sales pitch.

We were struck by this and loved one of the paintings so decided to purchase it. A large 30" x 20" set me back £300, but I am used to art being discounted before the gallery so thought I was getting a good deal. Alarm bells started ringing when we were persistently hassled this week by a 'friend' of the saleperson to come over and frame the picture. I started to look into this a little further by doing some research and it is quite a well known scam. These paintings are copies of original arts produced in China for around $10 and then shipped over here where backpackers or visiting students scam unsuspecting residents. I have seen the exact same paintings we were shown for as little as $5 online.

I have seen her around the Surbiton area since then with the paintings knocking on other doors. I now have Police and Trading Standards looking at this so if you or anyone you know has been caught by this please let me know so they can at least try to bring them in (even if I don't get my money back!).




Just to let all you Surbitonians know, they have just knocked on my door ( this evening 27 September) in St Marys Road, Long Ditton. The best thing is just not to open the door. I have read about this scam, and yes it is a scam, although I suppose if you like the artwork and it is within your budget, why not buy it. Don't give out your phone number or any other details though ... and always pay in cash, not credit card or cheque. Be warned !

Why would anyone buy art at the door or shares over the phone or any of the other unsolicited electronic methods?

I guess schools nowadays do not try and inform students about what happens in the world on a day to day basis and thus we
have a trusting but vulnerable and gullible class of highly educated people.

This also happens to the elderly who are so innocent that they really believe that they have won a lottery in Nigeria,having never visited the country or bought a ticket,I really do not understand how these things can happen.

Interesting that you compare buying art at the door with buying shares over the phone. It's a bit like comparing apples and elephants.
I have been a "victim" of this so called scam (probably back in 2005 to 2008 but I can't remember exactly). A young chap came to my door with a portfolio of art. He had what seemed like a plausible story about being an art student selling on behalf of other Israeli students. As much as I hate door to door sales or charity collectors I indulged him by looking at some of the paintings. It was only when I had looked through them all and seen about a dozen that I would be very happy to hang on my wall that I let him in. I was very suspicious of the whole thing but I really did like several of the paintings. He was asking around £200 a £300 each for unmounted canvases, which was far too much to pay at the door. I negotiated and eventually took one off him for £80 cash. To me, this was a price I was prepared to "lose" if it turned out to be a scam.
The thing is, maybe it was a scam but I ended up with what I consider to be a beautiful piece of art on my wall. Beautiful colours and texture (and yes it is hand painted, either with oil or acrilyc paint - I don't really care to be honest!). It catches the eye of every new visitor to my home and receives complements often. I framed it myself - not trivial but worth the effort.
The value of shares can only really be measured by what someone else is prepared to pay to buy them from you. The value of art can also be measured by that but the most important measure is how much pleasure you derive by looking at it! In that respect I feel that my £80 was money well spent. I also know how to frame a canvass now if anyone's interested.....

We just had this nice girl come round and try to sell us these paintings to my parents, in Norwich. We told her to go away and come back in a bit, which is when I did a search on google for 'Door to door art sales' and this useful resource popped up and has blown her cover. So thanks for people talking about this online. When she comes back in half an hour I will be sure to tell her to go away. Alarm bells started ringing when she first arrived at our house as I remember a friend of mine from when I was back packing in Australia doing the same thing. She is probably totally unconnected to the artwork and they are most likely cheap replicas. I was just enjoying her good looks and company so much I thought I would let her entertain me for half an hour. I might do it again when she comes back actually and then politely tell her I am not interested.

Sorry to hear about all you people who have been caught out by the scam. I will try to get her number and report her for you or maybe take her out for a drink ;)

If you like the picture and you think the price is fair then what's the problem with buying it? How much are they asking? When all is said and done, a picture is decoration, not Bank of England bonds. If you don't want to encourage door-to-door sales then (a) don't answer the door or else (b) politely decline their offer. It's not hard.

BTW, I prefer not to buy at the doorstep. Instead I buy pictures from Amazon. I'm thrilled with my Box Canvas Print of Paul Ross. That's sure to be an investment! I can't bear to look at it but I'll be cashing it in to boost my old-age pension.

Thank you so much. I've always wondered if there was a way I could hang Paul Ross.

Have just had this experience down in Southend area.

The art looks good - was quoted GBP 80 - 120 per item.

You can tell that they are fake as:

i) The portfolio actually smells of plastic. You are told this is oil - but oil paintings do not smell.
ii) You can see that these are acrylic colored filler laid on a cheap print - not really oil paintings.
iii) Wasn't aware of the source of origin - counterfeit from China figures.

Guy selling claimed to be Israeli - but had a Romanian accent, but did deny that he was the artist.

Foolishly gave him a mobile number - but that is more because I am curious to find out what happens next and report in to the authorities.

They have moved to Telford!

We cancelled the cheque and are waiting for them to collect paintings - I wonder if we will ever see them!

I live in St Marys Road Long Ditton. Another 'art student' has just been round to my door. Luckily I remembered this thread so I turned the guy away. Be warned !

She knocked on our door too, a couple of months ago. We are in St Marys Road so it was probably the same evening she came to you. But we never open the door to people selling at the door. There are a lot of scams around, but as cranespark says, if you enjoy the painting, it is worth it and it has taught you a lesson - don't open the door in the first place !

I'm not at all sure that's a scam. Thing is you valued the painting at £300 and paid that. Art needn't cost much to create, so the viewer decides what it's worth. Do you still love the painting? Hope you still do. Remember it's not how much it cost to make, but whether you like it or not that matters.

Very true.

Had a couple of guys down Norton Avenue last week doing the same ol'story.

I had an art student who knocked on our door on Langley Avenue to sell paintings. We liked quite a few of them and we ended up buying one after haggling the price down to under £50. I liked the painting and paid a price for it which I was happy with so don't see why this would be considered a scam.

I totally disagree that it is not considered a scam. Aparently these are print transfers which are stuck onto a light linoleum backing...resembling canvas. These people are now in the South Staffordshire area. Don't fall for this. We did...

Less a scam. Just more a case of unlicenced sellers, making cash-in-hand on paintings, often with a hard sell and claiming credit for the paintings.

I just read this article and I am absolutely schocked, still cant imagine it is so ! I am student as well!

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