Goldhawk Fights Back: Scams in Canada growing faster than the economy

This is a weekly column by Dale Goldhawk, Canada’s best-known consumer advocate. A journalist, author and broadcaster, Dale hosts Goldhawk Fights Back For You, on AM 740 or at AM740 ZoomerRadio, Monday through Friday from 11 am to 1 pm, in the eastern time zone. Visit his website at

We know that Caveat Emptor makes sense and we should apply the Buyer Beware rule every time we agree to buy any product or service — and apply it most strenuously when we are presented with an investment opportunity too good to pass up. Those are usually the opportunities we should have passed up, before waving goodbye to our heard-earned money.

But sometimes we get caught up in the dream. Big money for small investment. And the guy selling the wonder deal is maybe one of our best new friends. He’s such a nice guy; he looks so prosperous; he would never cheat us. We can trust him. Once we suspend our critical disbelief we leave ourselves wide open to fraud. Take our money, you smooth-talking, two-bit crook.

Remember the scams: Bernie Madoff made off with $65 billion. He reminded us all that the old cons are the best cons. The Ponzi scheme still works today. The con is based on the pioneering work of Carlo Ponzi, who defrauded existing investors by paying them off with new investors’ money. It’s a house of cards situation and sooner or later, it collapses and many people lose all their money.

Two other recent Ponzis happened in Western Canada — a $400 million ripoff in Calgary and a scam in Vancouver involving relative lunch money — $26 million.

In the United States, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission says it investigated more Ponzi scams in three months this year, than it had in all of 2008.

An Ipsos Reid poll in Alberta reported one small, encouraging note. The number of victims who are actually reporting the crimes to police has almost tripled. I guess some people are getting mad as Hell and they are not going to take it anymore.

Every day I get some new complaint about money and how victims lost it. This one came today from a Zoomer in Ontario:

“The manager I had lost all my pension money — $600,000. Not even enough left to sue. At 76, I may have to go back to work so we won’t lose the house.”

“Even big companies get suckered into shady business deals. MoneyGram International Inc. has spent years developing a reputation in Canada. MoneyGram, An American company, became the second-largest money transfer service in North America.

But the Federal Trade Commission in the United States says MoneyGram accepted business from fraudulent Canadian telemarketers, who used the services of MoneyGram to siphon $80 million and likely much more, out of the pocket of unsuspecting Americans.

Photo © Feng Yu


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Dale GoldhawkGemini award nominee, journalist and broadcaster, Dale Goldhawk has earned Canada’s trust by his four decades of work exposing fraud and greed in the marketplace. To read more of his articles, go to (now part of the ZoomerMedia family of websites).

Don’t miss Goldhawk Fights Back , on the New AM740 Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m.