Many youth sports organizations begin from the ground up. Some well-intentioned person, or  perhaps a few parents, see(s) the need for a grassroots startup to give children an opportunity to participate in a sport. It’s a great way to bring communities together and to build children’s fitness levels and self-esteem.

Some of these youth sports groups, however, are easy prey for predators seeking to steal cash, identities or commit fraud. Why?

The first reason is that many of them start as cash-only enterprises. Participants are putting a lot of trust into people that they may not know very well to be positive stewards of this money. Often, though, there isn’t a lot of transparency on how that money is being used or even where it ends up. There simply isn’t any paper trail.

The second reason is that people provide a lot of information on applications to these groups, and sometimes, may be providing more information than is necessary. For example, are you being asked to provide your child’s social security number? Who will have access to this information? Where will it be stored? Forking over too much personal identifying information is dangerous and can make it incredibly easy for identity thieves to cash in on your kids.

The third reason is that participants are too trusting. Maybe parents are too busy and simply want to give their kids something to do without being burdened by any responsibilities? Or they believe the organizers know what they’re doing. Either way, any youth sports organization that operates a little too tightly and doesn’t want to delegate any responsibilities should give off warning signs.

Here are some other profiles of youth sports fraudsters:

  • 63% are women
  • On average, men steal twice as much money as women
  • Embezzlement starts at 42 years old, on average
  • The greatest loss was caused by thieves between 40 – 49 years old
  • 11% of all fraud reported in the U.S. occurred in religious and non-profit groups

There are several things participants can require of youth sports groups to help eliminate the chance of financial and personal crimes.

  • Establish a Board of Directors and Institute a “Closely Held Relationship” Rule
  • Ask for Monthly Intake and Expenditure Reports and a Year-End Report
  • Require Clean Record Keeping and Have an Oversight Committee
  • Conduct Background Checks on Organizers, Coaches and Volunteers

Background checks are an incredibly important and useful tool to highlight any criminal convictions for previous offenders. Criminal histories, from financial crimes to assaults or even worse, are highlighted in background check reports. This is critical information for any youth sports organization who wants to keep its staff, volunteers and child participants safe.

Youth sports organizations, especially those still struggling financially or who are operating as cash-only, may balk at requiring background checks. They may feel they can’t afford to pay for people’s background checks. That is a legitimate complaint, but there are solutions; The easiest of which is to ask coaches, volunteers and other staff members to pay for their own background checks. This is becoming an increasingly common practice, especially as background checks designed specifically for youth sports groups (like those provided by Protect Youth Sports) are becoming more affordable and encompass other important trainings like child safety education and abuse prevention. For information on the rates and packages available through Protect Youth Sports, give one of our team members a call at (800) 319-5587 or shoot us an email here.

What concerns do you have about protecting your youth sports organization from fraudsters or other criminals? We’d love to hear from you so comment below.