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OPP warn of snow removal scam in Hawkesbury, Ont.

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Ontario Provincial Police are warning residents in the Hawkesbury area about a reported snow removal scam.

Eastern Ontario was blanketed with its first big blast of snow on Monday, but some people who paid deposit fees for snow removal services now say they've been defrauded.

OPP said in a news release Tuesday that several people in East Hawkesbury and Vankleek Hill are out between $200 and $400 each. Police referred to this as an "active scam" involving "an individual pretending to offer snow removal services."

Police also warned residents to not give out personal information over the phone.

Josee Dumoulin told CTV News Ottawa that she was told it would cost $400 to clear her driveway.

"This is the first time I've broken my cardinal rule, never to send anything. And I actually say on my text messages, 'I will pay you cash when you get here tomorrow.' And he replied saying, 'Actually, I have about four people asking for my services and if I take you on, I need that deposit,'" she said. "I sent him a message saying, 'I guess you're scamming me right?' And then I dialed the phone number again and it says the number you have dialed cannot be completed.

"I couldn't believe that... I lost this money right before Christmas."

Roselyn Denis had the same issue.

"I tried to call him and no answer. I tried to text him; no answer," she said. "And he told us that he would give us a special price of $400 and we had to pay $200 in advance and $200 in February. So he came here, and I gave him the money."

Denis showed CTV News Ottawa a contract that was handwritten on lined paper, signed by Dylan Day. Dumoulin showed CTV News Ottawa text messages where the contractor identified himself as Dylan Proulx, but the name Dylan Day appears in his email address.

"I'm very angry because we don't have a lot of money on a pension and he told us that it was a special price to help us out. He's not helping us," said Denis.

Police did not identify the individual in a news release Tuesday and did not announce charges. 

OPP say their investigation remains ongoing. 

"From October to November, we've had many reports of a fraudster who's offering snow removal services to people in the area, primarily in Vankleek Hill and East Hawkesbury. And this individual asks for a deposit from anywhere from $200 to $400. And then keeps the deposit and does not come back and complete the service," explained Const. Sydney Jones with Hawkesbury OPP. 

Officers are working on leads, police said, and anyone with information or who may have fallen victim to this alleged scam is asked to contact Hawkesbury OPP at 1-888-310-1122 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).

--With files from CTV News Ottawa's Dave Charbonneau.

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