Parents of Orangeville Minor Hockey players defrauded thousands through fake tournaments

April 27, 2023   ·   0 Comments

By Sam Odrowski

Several families with youth who play in the Orangeville Minor Hockey house league were recently defrauded $2,000 to $3,000 by a woman pretending to be the team’s trainer. 

The person who allegedly scammed the families was charged with six counts of fraud under $5,000 by Dufferin OPP on April 8 and will appear before the Ontario Court of Justice in Orangeville on May 9.

The defrauded families paid the team’s trainer for hotel accommodations and two hockey tournaments she never registered for.

“Our family has been in organized sports in Orangeville for many years and we’ve never felt that we couldn’t trust the coaching volunteers,” said Laura Gallant, one of the victims who discovered the fraudulent activity. “It’s disappointing.”

Gallant said she first became suspicious of the team’s trainer when there was a sudden date and location change for a tournament she had previously paid for and her family couldn’t attend the new date.  

She requested a refund since the new date didn’t work and was told they weren’t available since the team was already registered for the tournament. Gallant then asked for contact information of the hosting league and tournament organizers but received no response.

Gallant found the contact information herself and discovered the team was never registered to play in the tournament after calling.

She said, “It was clear at this point that we were dealing with a case of fraud.”

Peggy Bond, a fellow team parent who was also scammed, said she was in disbelief when Gallant shared this news. 

“It was unthinkable to imagine that the parent of a child on our team, who was also a trusted volunteer on our team bench, could possibly steal money from the kids and their parents on the team,” Bond told the Citizen.

Orangeville Minor Hockey met with the impacted families last week and shared that they will refund all the money they were scammed out of. The league is now looking to recuperate the $2,000 to $3,000 lost through the justice system. 

Dufferin OPP officers have also been working with all the victims involved in the incident and say this isn’t a case they deal with regularly. 

“There is nothing the victims could have done to protect themselves,” said Const. Terri-Ann Pencarinha, Dufferin OPP officer.

President of Orangeville Minor Hockey Rick Stevens said, “I feel bad for any victims that have been defrauded. It’s terrible when this happens to any minor sports group.”

Stevens shared that Orangeville Minor Hockey wasn’t aware that the woman who committed the alleged fraud was sitting on the bench all season and pretending to be the team’s trainer. 

“She just led the parents to believe that she was acting as a bench personnel, but she was never officially given that position, nor did she take any courses to be the trainer,” said Stevens, who added that the league would never knowingly allow someone without proper training to act as the team’s trainer.

Without proper medical training, Bond said she’s worried about what would have happened if her son or another player had a concussion or serious injury on the ice. 

Bond and Gallant said the initial response from Orangeville Minor Hockey leadership concerned parents as they didn’t have timely responses to their emails.

But Stevens said the league was directed by police and the Ontario Minor Hockey Association to “take a backseat role” as the investigation was carried out and paused communications. 

After the charges were laid and the paperwork was processed, Stevens met with the families to provide an update and later shared the league would be able to recuperate their losses.

Orangeville Minor Hockey is looking at new protocols and safeguards to prevent a similar situation from happening in the future, which will be voted on at its Annual General Meeting on June 13.

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