Warning of door-to-door art scam

By Kiri Gillespie -

Scammers trying to flog off cheap art works for hundreds of dollars have set their target on the Western Bay of Plenty.

The scam involves people, described as foreigners, going door-to-door asking residents to buy top quality artwork for bargain prices.

Residents have been told the works were sometimes produced by art students and were available for cheaper-than-gallery prices - about $200 to $300 each.

However, investigations have revealed the art works to be mass produced in China, worth $3 to $6.50 each.

Ohauiti resident Stuart Whitaker said he answered his door on Friday to a woman trying to sell artwork.

Mr Whitaker said it was about 5pm and the woman carried a large folder with her, insisting he have a look.

Mr Whitaker said the woman had a heavy Latina or South American accent and was in her 20s.

"She was a pretty girl," he said.

"She said 'have a look a them'."

Mr Whitaker declined to buy anything and left to drop his son at a sports event and when he returned home about 7.45pm he noticed the same woman being picked up at the end of his cul-de-sac.

"I didn't really regard it as a scam," Mr Whitaker said.

"I just thought it was someone trying to make a bit of money."

Victims duped by the sales staff in other regions have said they felt shocked, cheated and embarrassed when they learned the art work they paid $200 for was worth a lot less.

Reports of the scam have come from Auckland, Whangarei, Wairarapa and the Hawke's Bay.

Sales staff have also claimed to be artists of the works, been vague with details when asked and in some cases completely ignored questions and made hasty exits.

Tauranga police Senior Sergeant Ross Bielby said while local police were yet to receive a complaint relating to the scammers, he was aware of their operation.

Mr Bielby warned people to be wary.

"Generally what can happen is they can put pressure on people to buy then and there," he said.

This message is echoed by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, which offers scam prevention advice for on its website.

It also states that a person has legal rights under the Door to Door Sales Act, but only with credit sales. The Act does not cover cash sales.

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