A FAKE contract scam using the identity of Swindon Wildcats head coach Ryan Aldridge has spread to Las Vegas, where pro Connor Haney has been targeted.
A con artist has been using Ryan’s name and offering fake contracts to players around the world in return for cash.
The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau is investigating the claims made by Ryan, who reported the offences involving more than 15 players last week.
Connor, 22, played professional ice hockey in the Czech Republic last year, but as a free agent this summer, was looking for a new club when he was approached by a supposed agent.
His mother, Lori Orchow Haney, 49, was dealing with the scammer on behalf of her son.
“My son got an email from an agent telling us about this British team looking for players,” she said.
“I then saw a post also on a hockey site called europlayers.com “We sent an e-mail looking for information. The next morning we got a scam warning letter from the site and I was angry because I assumed they checked the legitimacy of teams.
“I sent an email to the team e-mail and that went unanswered. The next day I noticed I had a new follower on Twitter named Ryan Aldridge.
“When I looked at the icon picture I noticed it was a picture of the NFL Kansas City Chiefs head coach, which clearly was a red flag.
“I read the five tweets and they all were trying to get players. So I did some sleuthing and found the real Ryan’s Twitter account and contacted him.”
The conman puts out notices across the ice hockey message boards, with pleas for players to contact him on a fake e-mail address: email@example.com.
Once a dialogue has been started a payment of £710 is requested in order to process a work permit for players, who, in the main, live in the European Union.
Offers of two-year deals went out to players in North America and Eastern Europe, on salaries of £3,000 a month.
The experience has made Lori think twice before giving her son’s personal information to prospective teams in future before doing her research.
“My first thought was someone really disliked Ryan or the team itself, but maybe it’s one of those annoying Nigerian prince type of scams,” she said.
“It’s made us take a hard look at all info before ever sending out a resume again. I hope they find out who did this.”
Ryan is confident the scam has not left any dent on the reputation of the Wildcats and he does not expect to encounter any problems with recruiting players for real, as a result.
“Hockey’s a small world. We are known, especially in the UK, as a team to look after players,” he said.
“A lot of people will know it’s a scam and nothing to do with us.”