Published On: Wed, Nov 20th, 2019

ART INVESTMENT FRAUD: Consumer ‘persuaded’ to hand over Dali print and pay £5,000 | The Crusader | Finance

From what Crusader has uncovered the signs are mixed at best so far for Peter Turner, a small private investor, who has parted with almost £8,000 but is yet to see anything in return. He called us a few days ago hugely worried about the fate of his investment and recounting a tale full of cold calls from persuasive strangers that dated back to 2017 and still continue. The first one the retired engineer received talked him into buying a limited edition Salvador Dali print for £2,521 that he expected to increase in value.

++ If you’ve been affected by this issue or feel you’ve been a victim of injustice, please contact consumer champion Maisha Frost on ++;

“The man had all my details,” he told Crusader. The print arrived framed with a note, he says, stating it came from Asset Consulting Services.

But the black and white fantasy-style image was not to Peter and his wife’s liking so it remained in its crate until another stranger called a few weeks ago. 

“He told me the first company who had sold it to me had been liquidated and the print needed to be reregistered if I had any chance of selling it,” he explained. 

The man offered to sell it on his arts network and get Peter £1,000 more than the original price.

“But to do this I would need to pay £5,000 for the registering, money I would get back,” Peter continues.

“He convinced me and as he was calling a woman knocked on our door, picked up my cheque and the print. It was all very rushed.”

The cheque was swiftly cashed, Peter no longer had his purchase or proof and the all dates the caller set for the bank transfer payment have so far been missed.

The rare times Peter has managed to speak to him, the caller insists he will be paid.

The cheque went into an account that shares the same name as a new company registered with Companies House with a London service address.   

Peter’s bank Santander is investigating. 

In 2017 regulator the Financial Conduct Authority warned the public against Asset Consulting Services or Asset Consulting Group which had been touting unauthorised investments.

In March the Government’s Insolvency Service wound up two UK-based companies in the public interest after abusing £1.4 million of investors’ funds in an art fraud. 

In October another two connected to the investigation, Gem Tobin Ltd of Warrington and York-based Dionysus Design Services were also shut down.

Both were found to have links to a separate business Asset Consulting Services or Asset Consulting Group based in either Spain or Morocco and using a similar art-based scam.

Similar Dali prints costing between £80 and £500 are for sale online. 

Peter thinks the first cold caller in 2017 that led to his investing via Asset Consulting Services or Asset Consulting Group may have got his details from shareholder lists where he had invested. He is now on guard as aware he details may have been passed on many times and he could be targeted again in the future. 

Peter’s name has been changed

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