CTV News investigation gets results for potential victim of Facebook fraud

A CTV News investigation into a Facebook page purporting to belong to the winner of the largest lotto prize ever awarded in British Columbia has led to the account being suspended, and connected a woman in need on the other side of the world with a generous Canadian who was actually willing to help.

Christine Lauzon is a real Burnaby woman, who really claimed a $70-million Lotto Max prize in October.

A Facebook page in Lauzon’s name popped up shortly after and began posting promises of free money to anyone who could demonstrate the need.

When CTV News learned of the page and contacted the B.C. Lottery Corporation, the agency reached out to Lauzon, who confirmed the account using her name and photo was a fake.

“I have volunteerily decided to help people financially,” one post on the imposter’s page said.

A woman in Fiji, who CTV News is not identifying to protect her privacy, replied to the post asking for $1,000 to fix her roof.

“When there’s heavy rain, the water always enters the house. Like half of the house it enters inside,” the woman said in a video call from her home.

The would-be scammer actually offered to send the woman $100,000, but only if she would deposit $300 in a Bitcoin wallet first.

The potential victim was trying to raise the money when she was contacted by CTV News and alerted to the fact the Facebook page and the generous offer were not legitimate.

“I was really happy because nobody has ever offered me that amount of money before,” she said, describing how she felt when she thought she would be getting the life-changing gift.

“It’s unfortunate that someone targeted an individual in that way,” BCLC said in a statement.

“BCLC cares deeply about our players and we encourage them to contact us if they have questions or concerns. Where there is suspected criminal activity, we advise them to contact police.”

After CTV News contacted Facebook, the social media giant took immediate action.

“Thanks for reaching out. Upon review of this account, we’ve removed it for violating our Community Standards for misrepresentation,” Facebook said in a statement.

Travis Shawcross, CEO of Ontario health-care company Pioneer Health Care, saw the CTV News story about the attempted scam and wanted to do something for the potential victim in Fiji who still didn’t have the money for the repairs to her house.

“I said, ‘Well, you know, it’s a thousand bucks. If that’s going to fix her roof and she’s going to be happy, I’ll be more than happy to do it.’ So, that’s what I did,” Shawcross said.

The woman says she will put the money towards upgrades to her home that will keep the rainwater out.

“He helped me. He already sent me the money. A thousand dollars to help rebuild my house,” she said. “And I’m so glad and happy for Mr. Travis’s help.”

Asked why he decided to be so generous with a complete stranger on the other side of the world, Shawcross said he can relate to the feeling of needing a little help.

“I’ve had nothing before. I know what it’s like to have nothing. In 2005, I was in a shelter in Surrey. I lived there for a month because I had nothing and I was trying to get back on my feet,” he said. “Through whatever decisions I’ve made over the last 18 years, I’ve become very successful. I’ve been very blessed and now it’s time for me to give back.”

His generosity has restored one stranger’s faith in the kindness of Canadians.