Police have issued an appeal to find a suspected fraudster after families rented villas in Europe only to fly out and find they did not exist.
Some families lost hundreds of thousands of pounds in the alleged fraud.
Carlo Bulley, 38, who lived in Brighton and Hove between September 2009 and May 2010, is suspected of carrying out a large-scale fraud, detectives said.
Sussex Police said families with young children had ended up stranded.
Det Con Tracey Dixon said it was believed Mr Bulley had been advertising villas for rent on legitimate websites.
She said victims had flown out to France, Spain or Portugal, but had arrived at their destination only to find the villas did not exist.
Det Con Dixon said: "Many of the victims have families with young children who have been left stranded in Europe at the height of the summer season.
"It's caused considerable stress and upset as they try to find alternative accommodation or get back home."
She said victims had entered into a contract, believing it to be genuine, and had been asked to pay by bank transfer into the accounts of either C Bulley or J Kettunen.
It was believed that Bulley, who also called himself Richard Ingle, Conrad Bulley and Casper Bulley, had fraudulently obtained in the region of hundreds of thousands of pounds, she added.
She said other forces across England, including the Metropolitan Police, were also trying to locate Bulley on suspicion of money laundering and fraud offences.
Det Con Dixon said the suspect was currently on bail with Essex Police.