The ringleader of group of Shanghai scammers who swindled 3.5 million yuan out of homeowners by selling them knockoff artwork at an inflated price was sentenced to five years and three months in prison.
A total of 18 other people involved in the art scam were given lesser punishments at the Chongming County People’s Court, Shanghai Daily reports.
The group called up homeowners and attempted to sell them reproduction artwork for way more than it was worth, convincing them that they were getting a deal. In one case, the scammers told a victim surnamed Zhang that she’d “won” the chance to buy a limited edition gold leaf version of the painting “Along the River During the Qingming Festival” for 1,980 yuan, claiming that it normally would cost 19,800 yuan.
In total, the group managed to swindle 153 people, some of whom didn’t realize that they’d been conned until the case was brought to light.
Previously on Shanghaiist: US tycoon busted in Chinese knock-off art scheme