POLICE are warning people planning to sell their car after three scammers tampered with a BMW for sale so they could knock £1,400 off the asking price.

Dorset Police has released CCTV images of three suspects following the latest in a number of similar offences.

The victims – a man and a woman from Poole - had advertised their BMW for sale on eBay when they received a request from a man to view the car.

Three men visited the address in Alder Road during the evening of Thursday, April 13. They distracted the sellers, while one of them poured oil into the coolant system.

The group then took the car on a test drive and it began to smoke. The trio reported the fault to the victims and offered to buy the car for £700, although the car was advertised for £2,100. The victims declined the offer.

Police Constable Steve Boston, of Dorset Police, said he would like to hear from anyone who can identify the men pictured or who has further information.

“We have had a number of reports over recent months of scammers distracting private car sellers and pouring a substance, normally oil, into the coolant system and causing the vehicle to smoke when being test driven. The scammer then offers to buy the car for a much lower price,” he explained.

He added: “I’d advise anyone selling or planning to sell their car to be aware of anyone operating as described and to report anything suspicious to police.”

There have been at least ten similar offences reported to police across Poole, Bournemouth, and Wimborne.

Police released an appeal in February following a similar scam in East Dorset.

Three men were arrested and released under investigation after a second hand car for sale on Gumtree was tampered with by the prospective buyers.

The offenders visited the address in St Ives, near Ringwood and distracted the seller while one of them poured oil into the coolant system.

They then pointed out a fault to the seller and offered to buy the car for a reduced amount despite there being nothing wrong with the car.

Police Sergeant Gareth Blaken said: “Fortunately the seller in this case was wise to what was going on, and when the alleged scammers left the address he informed the police.”

Officers stopped a car on the A35 near Dorchester and arrested three men.