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Chinese con man promises to hold exhibition for retired teacher, 81 – then steals his paintings and 2,500 yuan cash

A retired 81-year old teacher from southwest China says he was fooled into handing over two of his paintings plus 2,500 yuan (HK$2,800) in cash to a con man who disappeared after claiming he planned to stage an exhibition of his artworks.

Wang Ance, who taught Chinese and history before he retired in 1989, was a keen amateur painter and said he was once offered 10,000 yuan for one of the missing paintings, West China Metropolis Daily reported.

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He was visited at his home in Chengdu, Sichuan province, in October by a smartly dressed middle-aged man, who claimed he was a Guangzhou businessman and one of Wang’s former students.

The man told Wang he hoped to fulfil one of his long cherished wishes of staging an exhibition featuring his paintings, the report said.

He also said he planned to invite some celebrities to support the exhibition.

Wang said in the report that he had not been able to remember teaching the man, but blamed this on his age and failing memory.

He handed over two of his paintings to the man so he could show the artworks to the celebrities.

The man also borrowed 2,500 yuan from Wang, after saying he had not brought enough cash with him to buy packs of cigarettes to give to the celebrities, the report said.

Wang discovered he had been cheated by the man only later, when the man never returned with his paintings.

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He said had been unable to reach the man using the phone number printed on the man’s business card.

The guard at Wang’s residential building said the man had not known the retired teacher’s full name before going upstairs to visit him.

Wang was quoted as saying that the loss of his money was not that important to him, but he wanted to recover the paintings because he could no longer draw so well because of his age.