Police are urging car sellers in Essex to be vigilant after seeing a rise in a scam which is said to be costing people 'thousands' of pounds.

Crooks are tampering with engines when taking a look at them, before then demanding a reduction in price.

The scammers are said to be pouring oil into the coolant reservoir of the vehicle for sale, before then requesting a discount and claiming the car will require a new engine.

The scam has been around for a number of years but police have urged sellers to be vigilant after seeing a rise in incidents in Essex.

A force spokesman said: “The scammers often arrive to view the car in pairs or threes and will try and distract the seller—one may ask to look at the engine whilst the other wants to see the spare tyre in the boot.

“When the car is taken for a test drive, the engine may smoke or make loud noises, which will prompt the scammers to ask for a cut-price deal.

“Recently, Essex Police has seen an increase in the number of reports of this scam, both within Essex and in surrounding counties.”


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Officers have issued the following safety advice to anyone looking to sell their car:

• Stay with the buyers - don’t leave them alone with the car or allow yourself to be distracted at the rear of the vehicle whilst someone is looking at the engine

• Be aware of suspicious behaviour - scammers will often request an enormous discount due to the ‘fault’ with the vehicle

• Be confident to refuse the sale - if you are doubtful about how genuine the buyer is, or you believe that something suspicious is going on, don’t hand over the keys.

Anyone with concerns or information should call Essex Police on 101.

Report fraud or attempted fraud by contacting Action Fraud at www.actionfraud.police.uk or call 0300 123 2040.