Provincial police are warning the public about an online cottage rental scam that has people believing they are about to start a relaxing vacation one minute, only to learn they are a victim of fraud the next.

Police say the scam involves the victim finding and renting a cottage online and paying either a deposit or the cost of the rental in full.

Upon arriving at the cottage, however, the victim learns that the cottage either doesn't exist or is someone's full-time home and not available for rent.

OPP say that there have been a number of reports of the scam in cottage country over the past couple of weeks.

Police caution that in many cases once the money is paid to the scammers it is very hard to recover.

Investigators say people renting a cottage should be very cautious and only deal directly with the owner of a cottage or a reputable firm that specializes in seasonal cottage renting.