A CON artist using the identity of Swindon Wildcats head coach Ryan Aldridge is offering out fake contracts to ice hockey players across 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 on Monday.

On Thursday, May 29, Ryan was first alerted to the issue by an agent he knew, who had asked him if he had really made a contract offer to one of his clients on the Continent.

More and more calls began to come into the head coach, many of which were from foreign parents, querying the conman’s requests for more than £700 to process a work permit.

“Since I first became aware of it at the end of May, I probably had 15 parents of young players contacting me,” said Ryan.

“A lot of them had seen the e-mail address and began to work out it was fake.

“Some have asked me to send the contract, some have asked for payment details.

“It looks as if he’s tried to get them to pay through Western Union.”

Through his own research and that of colleagues, Ryan has established the bank account being used by the perpetrator to take money off prospective Wildcats is based in Manchester.

It has also emerged the mobile phone number used by the scammer has connections with the domestic basketball scene, where similar offers have been put out on the internet for players.

The conman puts out notices across the ice hockey message boards, with pleas for players to contact him on a fake e-mail address: office.swindonwildcatsihc@gmail.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 Wildcats official said this was at the top end of their budget.

“I was going to call him, but I was told by my boss not to,” said Ryan.

“So I will leave the police to do it.

“I have seen a copy of some of the contracts they have sent to players and they even include fake signatures.

“They’re probably better contracts than we use in real life.

“I did send him an e-mail when I first heard what was going on a few weeks back.

“I asked him to please stop ripping people off with my name.”

Ice Hockey UK’s general secretary Andy French said the scam was unprecedented in domestic ice hockey.

Anyone contacted by the fraudster can contact Andy in the strictest of confidence on this e-mail address: general.secretary@icehockeyuk.co.uk.