Online fraud leaves Calgary hockey association out nearly $100K
A fraudulent email demanding a substantial wire transfer has a northeast minor hockey association facing a significant loss in 2017.
In early January, the treasurer of the McKnight Hockey Association received an email that appeared to have been sent by officials with the Royal Bank, with whom the association does its banking, indicating an urgent transfer of funds was required immediately.
The treasurer attempted to contact their fellow board members but their efforts were unsuccessful. The association’s banking agreement does require two authorized signatures to issue cheques but the safety measure does not extend to wire transfers.
The fraudulent email included details that made it appear as if the hockey association’s board had approved an immediate transfer.
“Quite frankly, I wasn’t even aware we could wire transfer money,” said Srecko Zizakovic, vice-president of the McKnight Hockey Association. “We’ve never done it in the past so it was really a challenge when I found out this had happened.”
The Calgary Police Service and Royal Bank Security are investigating the fraud.
According to Zizakovic, the McKnight Hockey Association board does have insurance and they hope it will cover their losses.
The hockey association says it will dip into its reserves in the short term but its financial recovery may require an increase in team fundraising efforts. The organization had expected a $50,000 surplus in 2017 but, considering the funds lost in the wire transfer, the board has altered its estimates and now predicts a $48,000 loss for the year.
Some parents are taking the news in stride.
“It could have happened to anyone,” said Greg Hammer, a hockey parent. “If I was in those shoes...I don’t know. I’m sure that person feels pretty bad about it so I wouldn’t lay blame.”
Members of the McKnight Hockey Association suspect the fraudsters collected director names and email addresses from their website and used that information to compile a believable fraudulent wire transfer request.
With files from CTV’s Kevin Green