Ontario Provincial Police say there has been a noticeable increase in fraud cases in Renfrew County.

In a news release, OPP said officers investigated 20 cases of fraud in the region in March.

Police gave some examples in which case victims were scammed out of thousands of dollars. In one case, a woman was told she had already been the victim of a scam and the fraudster asked for personal information, which the victim provided. She ended up e-transferring $2,000 into a Bitcoin account and giving her driver’s licence and credit card information to the caller.

In another case, a bank employee contacted police on behalf of a customer who withdrew money from their bank account and purchased gift cards at the scammer's request. The victim lost approximately $8,000.

In a third case, a scammer called a victim and told them their identity was compromised and that by confirming their identity and transferring money, it would assist the "Fraud Department" in identifying who is responsible. Police said the victim forwarded a photo of their driver's licence, provided their credit card information and e-transferred $2,000 to a Bitcoin account.

Another victim was directed to a Bitcoin ATM in Renfrew and told to deposit $5,600 or her bank account would be frozen and she would be arrested.

“The OPP would like to remind the public to be cautious when receiving phone calls, text messages or emails requesting personal or banking information. Scammers are also asking victims to purchase gift cards or send money via cryptocurrency which are difficult methods for police to trace,” police said.

“If you are asked to provide all of your banking information and passwords, don't do it, it's a scam. Ask yourself why any company would ask for banking information over the phone or text message when they should already have your information on file,” the OPP cautioned. “Contact the company or agency directly to confirm that you really are a victim of identity fraud before providing any personal or banking information.”

If you want to report a fraud, or if you need more information, contact The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre online or at 1-888-495-8501.