A new report compiled by a police fraud bureau reveals the scale of the crime is rising with fraudsters stealing an estimated £7million from holidaymakers and other travellers in 2013.
ABTA, The City of London Police's National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) and Get Safe Online have joined forces to warn the public about holiday booking fraud.
The 2014 report reveals that during a 12 month period over 4500 cases of holiday booking fraud were reported.
According to the report, 30% of holiday fraud victims in 2013 were scammed by the fraudulent advertisement of holiday villas and apartments, while 21% were for airline ticket booking fraud.
Group travel and particularly sports and religious packages are also a target, around 17% of overall reports, with the Hajj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia and major sporting events such as the Ryder Cup highlighted.
Holidaymakers are warned that in 2014, packages for the Ryder Cup, the Commonwealth Games in Scotland, and travel to the World Cup in Brazil, may prove a target.
ABTA, the NFIB and Get Safe Online have published advice on how to avoid becoming a victim of holiday booking fraud which includes not paying directly into an owner's bank account and where possible using a credit card with protection.
Travellers are advised to study receipts, invoices and terms and conditions, and beware of any companies that don't provide any at all.
Detective Superintendent O'Doherty, director of NFIB, said: "The internet has changed the way we look for and book our holidays. Unfortunately it is also enabling fraudsters, using online offers of villas, hotels and flights that simply don't exist or promising bookings that are never made, to prey upon those looking for that perfect break."
Tony Neate, CEO, Get Safe Online said: "The most important thing being to do your research! By this I mean checking a range of online reviews of the holiday you are about to book and that the company you are booking with is a member of a recognised trade association. Likewise, check the site is secure before paying by looking out for a padlock symbol in the browser window frame and 'https://' at the beginning of the web address."