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Members of The Society of Art Dealers’ and the British Antique Dealers’ Association have been warned about the ruse.

The attempted scam involves a man trying to extract cash by insisting the ‘boss’ of the gallery has ordered car parts – an oil filter and some brake pads – that need to be paid for.

Witnesses say the alleged scammer has ‘a very well-practised’ routine.

One Mayfair gallery notes: “He was very chatty and forward, saying he had not seen me in the gallery before. Then he made a call on his mobile and said it was agreed I needed to give him £225 and could I quickly go and draw it out on my card.”

In all cases the attempts to obtain cash failed.