TORONTO - Police are investigating whether 60 Canadian hockey players were defrauded after an expensive trip to Europe allegedly fell flat on promises to showcase their skills for professional scouts.
Billed as a "dream" opportunity, parents say their sons - mostly from Ontario - ponied up thousands of dollars each in exchange for what they believed would be a potentially career-advancing tournament in France.
They say they were told by Ontario Central Scouting that the tournament could lead to the chance to play in Europe for one to four years, if the scouts liked what they saw.
When the group of players, most of whom are in their late teens, arrived in Paris, however, there were no international teams, no scouts and no tournament.
Const. Adam Minnion with Peel Region police, west of Toronto, said investigators haven't yet drawn conclusions on whether it is a fraud or civil matter.
"We have to determine whether or not the services weren't rendered because of a fraudulent means, or whether these contracts weren't entered into in good faith and at some time along the way something broke down," he said.
Officers began investigating several days ago when parents complained to them that their sons had paid $3,500 for a trip that hadn't panned out as expected. They're now working on gathering information from all the players involved, most of whom live within a 200 to 300 kilometre radius of the Toronto area.
"We need to speak to all of them or their parents who entered into these contracts or expectations, just to find out the legitimacies and the intricacies of what they've signed themselves into," Minnion said.
The cost for the trip was pegged at US$1,999 on Ontario Central Scouting's website. The site has since been removed from the web.
Minnion said officers are still working to get information from OCS about what happened.
He added there is a possibility other players have been in contact with the group about future games and warned that parents should always verify tournaments with either Hockey Canada or the International Ice Hockey Federation, which sanction all events.