POLICE are hunting scammers who tried to trick car owners into selling their vehicles for low prices after pouring coolant over engines to make them smoke.

Officers have warned the public after incidents in Verwood and Stourpaine.

Police received a report at 5.32pm on Wednesday February 5 of criminal damage to a car at an address on Ringwood Road in Verwood.

Three people turned up following a pre-arranged appointment to view a car that was advertised for sale by the victim on Gumtree and Auto Trader.

The victim went inside the address to collect relevant paperwork and when he came back outside one of the men was looking under the bonnet.

The people interested in buying the car took it out for a test drive when it started smoking. At this point, they offered the victim a lower price for the car, which he refused.

When the victim took his car to a local garage they confirmed that coolant was poured over the engine.

Two of the suspected offenders are described as male and aged between 40 and 50 years old, with one dressed in smart casual clothing and the other wearing a suit. The third person is described as a male teenager who was wearing a black Superdry coat. All three people are described as being possibly of Indian descent. They left the address in a silver Audi.

A similar incident occurred in Stourpaine on Thursday January 30. It is reported that the victim met two people at The White Horse Inn to discuss selling a car. The owner was distracted and during this time it is believed that oil was poured over the engine.

Again, a lower price was offered for the vehicle after it was alleged that the car was damaged. The victim refused the lower price and took his car to a garage the following day.

Police Community Support Investigator Kate Hann, of East Dorset police, said: “I would like to hear from anyone who has put a car up for sale recently where the buyers have acted in a similar way, or recognises the men described from similar circumstances.

“I am also keen to remind anyone selling their car to be aware of anyone operating as described and report any suspicious activity to police.”

Information to Dorset Police on 101, quoting occurrence number 55200018696, or the free and anonymous Crimestoppers line on 0800 555 111.