Police have urged holidaymakers to exercise caution when booking getaways after people were conned out of more than £15 million last year.
Figures from Action Fraud reveal scammers conned consumers across Britain and Northern Ireland out of an average £2,372.
In Northern Ireland alone, figures show between April last year and this March, 105 people fell victim to this type of fraud, around a two per cent increase on last year.
Recent scams have involved consumers paying partial deposits online for accommodation that either does not exist or paying for genuine accommodation on a fake website.
Chief Superintendent Gerard Pollock, Chairman of ScamwiseNI Partnership, acknowledges that it can be difficult to distinguish between a bargain and a scam.
"It's natural for people to search for deals when it comes to booking their holiday trips, we all do it but too often what can seem as a bargain holiday, or a good deal online, is the start of a scam,” he said.
“These scams will not only leave people out of pocket, but also scupper their holiday plans. You may end up paying twice for flights or accommodation.”
Mr Pollock advised holidaymakers to carry out thorough research on the company, website or person they are booking with.
"There are also some really straightforward things that will keep you right when booking a holiday,” he said.
“Don't rely on just one website or review. If it's a fake there's a good chance others will write about their experience and some basic internet research will find it. Look for the logo, check to see if the company is a member of the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) and, if you're booking a flight, check to see it's approved by Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing (ATOL). If it is a recent website or new social media page be extra cautious.
"Never pay by bank transfer - the safest way to pay is by credit card and, where at all possible, avoid paying by bank transfer to someone you do not know or have not met in person. If the deal looks too good to be true, it probably is."
For further advice and information visit www.nidirect.gov.uk/scamwiseni or the ScamwiseNI Facebook page @scamwiseni.
You can also call Action Fraud via www.actionfraud.police.uk or call 0300 123 2040 or police on the non-emergency number 101. Information and advice is available on our website https://www.psni.police.uk/safety-and-support/keeping-safe/protecting-yourself/scams-and-fraud.