Six people have been arrested by officers investigating a major “virtual vehicle scam”.
South Yorkshire Police said four men and two women were detained after warrants were executed in Rotherham, Doncaster, Essex and Hampshire.
The arrests were made as part of an operation targeting online fraudsters claiming to sell vehicles at reduced prices, then pocketing the money and leaving the buyer empty handed.
All six people remain in custody.
Four men and one woman, aged between 28 and 33, were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud, fraud by false representation and money laundering, the force said.
A further women, aged 27, was arrested on suspicion of child neglect.
A police spokesperson said “hundreds of victims” across the UK had been targeted by virtual vehicle fraud.
Det Ch Insp Anna Sedgwick, who led the operation, said the arrests were part of a “large-scale, multi-agency investigation into the organised crime group who have been committing these frauds across the country over a number of years”.
She added: “My advice would be to never, ever transfer any money to anyone, no matter how pleasant or legitimate they seem, without having physically seen the car first.
“We have seen reports of this scam grow significantly in recent years, and therefore it’s really important buyers take extra steps to check the seller is legitimate before handing over any cash or personal information.”