OTTAWA -- Ontario Provincial Police have shared details of two scams to watch out for after reports came in from different parts of eastern Ontario.

Russell County OPP are warning businesses, such as gas stations, convenience and grocery stores, and other retailers of a rising number of gift card-related frauds as reported by the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

"The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre has seen an increase in complaints where fraudsters request payment through the purchase of various gift cards," the police said. "Businesses are being requested to ask questions to clients purchasing a large amount of gift cards. This could help the individuals from becoming a victim of fraud."

Consumers are warned to be suspicious of unsolicited calls asking you to pay for services using gift cards. Police shared the following tips:

  • If you are asked to pay for any service or product with a gift card, don't do it, it's a scam.
  • Ask yourself why any company would ask for payment through gift cards over the phone or text message when they should already have your information on file.
  • Contact the company or agency directly to confirm that if you really owe money or that there's a problem, before providing any personal or banking information.

"Emergency" scam reported in Ottawa Valley

The Upper Ottawa Valley OPP recently reported a so-called "emergency" or "grandparent" scam attempting to target an individual in the Pembroke area.

"The victim received a call advising that her daughter had been involved with police and was in custody," OPP explained. "The scammer was attempting to make arrangement for the release of their daughter and $9000 needed to be sent immediately to facilitate the court process. The scammer identified himself as a police officer. The victim then spoke to someone on the phone who was crying, claiming to be their daughter, who requested this be kept secretive as to avoid further trouble."

In this case, the target did not give the caller any money and instead contacted their daughter directly to confirm she was not in trouble.

Police identified several red flags to look out for in frauds of this nature:

  • Often times, there will be a request not to tell anyone, to keep it a secret to avoid further trouble
  • Request for gift cards or cryptocurrency
  • Urgent request for action or information
  • Request for banking information
  • Unsolicited attempts at selling products or services

Police recommend you be careful what you post online and to be suspicious of calls that request immediate action, especially if it includes payment. Phone numbers can be spoofed, as well. Some frauds involve people calling from numbers that appear to be legitimate, such as police stations.

Never give personal identifiable information or money to anyone you have only communicated with by telephone or online.

Trust your gut. When in doubt, hang up and then check directly with your family members yourself.

Anyone who feels they may be the target of a scam, or who knows of someone who has, is encouraged to contact local police and/or the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501.