Goldhawk Fights Back: Don’t Bite on the Big Win

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

I have warned time and time again about telephone, email, snail mail and fax scams in which you are told you have won an amazing, stupendous, marvelous, expensive prize. But the scammers keep trying and some poor people who answer these scams keep losing their hard-earned money.

Here’s just one of the latest. WestJet has alerted consumers in a news release that a fraud artist is making telephone calls from a 403 area code. The person who responds is told he or she has won a prize from WestJet Vacations.

Yes, I know. This sounds too good to turn down. You start dreaming about skiing in Whistler or sailing in the Caribbean or biking in Bermuda. It sounds too good to be true because it is not true. It’s just one more lie in the arsenal of some of the cruelest scammers on the face of the earth.

WestJet gives good advice: Hang up immediately and contact PhoneBusters, the outfit that tracks such scams even if not much is being done — or can be done — to throw a monkey wrench at the heads of the cheats who pull this kind of criminal stunt.

As WestJet spokesman Robert Palmer said, “This sort of thing does pop up from time to time.” And he adds some other good advice: “The best thing to do is not to give your personal information or credit card especially over the telephone to someone that you either have no confidence, no knowledge of, no relationship with, no trust of, and that’s certainly the case with these scammers.”

It takes a modicum of self-discipline to hang up that telephone or to shut down and delete forever that email. But remind yourself to do it every time you are advised you have won something or can take special advantage of a surprising offer.

You are the Millionth Customer to come to this site and you Win Big! Close it up and hit delete forever. We are looking for a trusted person to be the administrator of a billion dollar estate in South Africa, Namibia, Kenya, Nigeria or Brazil. Shut it down and click Kill. Overlook all the capital letters and exclamation points. Don’t even glance at the numbers after the dollar or pound sterling sign. Hang up the phone. Do not reply in any way to anyone who tells you that you are a big winner of some strange prize.

There may be one time in 10 million when you will have won the Cancer lottery. But don’t let this deter you in your quest to hang up on and delete every scammer on the planet. If you are a legitimate winner, you will get a registered letter in the mail or someone will come to your door with a legitimate cheque that you can verify with the bank. And, if you are a legitimate winner, you will not be asked for one cent in advance fees, taxes, surety, good faith money or any other phony come-on. Never pay anything to anybody who says you are a winner.

Thanks, WestJet for the notice. But, we know someone out there is eager to bite on this one. And the scammers know too: that’s why they remain in business.

Photo © Yanik Chauvin

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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.