Gardai have warned owners of classic and vintage cars about a scam involving the sale of their cars. Their appeal is particularly directed at older people, who may not have been paid at all or paid less than the value of the car.

Four men have been arrested as part of an investigation into the sale and purchase of classic and vintage cars in Co Limerick.

The arrests follow a Garda search operation in Rathkeale.

Gardaí said that to date, 20 vehicles are subject of the investigation, with a total value of approximately €360,000. Among the cars are understood to be a Bentley and two Rolls Royce cars.

In many cases the victims have been elderly people. A Garda source said a gang had been targetting people who might have a valuable car and offering them far less than the market value of the car or had taken the car away with a promise of payment, but this had not been received. "It's a particular problem in rural areas and especially for those living alone. Many people have these cars, often laid up for years, and may have little knowledge of their true value".

Gardaí say there are likely to more more victims and are appealing for them to forward.

Detective Superintendent Michael Mullen of the Garda National Bureau of Criminal Investigation said: "From enquiries to date, I believe there may be more victims across the country who have been deceived during a transaction involving a vintage or classic car.

"I would like to appeal today, particularly to the elderly community to contact your local Garda Station if you believe that you have been deceived in the purchase and or sale of a vintage or classic car in circumstances where either money has not been received or money received far less than that of the value of the car."