Swimmer Brent Hayden speaks to reporters after training at the UBC Aquatic Centre in Vancouver, B.C., Thursday, May 24, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Swimmer Brent Hayden speaks to reporters after training at the UBC Aquatic Centre in Vancouver, B.C., Thursday, May 24, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Canada’s Tokyo hopefuls hit with credit card fraud on top of pandemic challenges

A number of Canadian athletes have discovered fake applications for a Walmart MasterCard were approved in their names

Brent Hayden didn’t need this on top of everything else.

The Canadian swimmer is among athletes trying to prepare for the Tokyo Olympics amid the COVID-19 pandemic while also dealing with credit card fraud.

A number of Canadian athletes have discovered fake applications for a Walmart MasterCard were approved in their names. They’re dealing with the time-consuming fallout.

“There are seven or eight Olympians that have had this,” Hayden told The Canadian Press.

“I think someone specifically decided to target Olympians. I don’t think it’s a vendetta against Olympians, but it’s ‘what’s a list of people we could do this to?’

“I don’t know if there was a data breach somewhere. The only information they seem to have are names and mailing addresses.”

Race walker Evan Dunfee of Richmond, B.C., and Calgary sport pistol shooter Lynda Kiejko confirmed they’ve dealt with the same credit card problems.

Dunfee cancelled a pair of cards that arrived at his parents’ house, with one already charged $500.

Kiejko was able to cancel charges and now has fraud alerts on her financial accounts.

“No idea who did it, or where they got my info,” she told The Canadian Press in a text.

As soon as Hayden cancelled one credit card, another one arrived in the mail as well as a statement from the first with $472 in charges.

The 37-year-old from Maple Ridge, B.C., won an Olympic bronze medal in the men’s 100-metre freestyle in 2012. He came out of retirement to compete in Tokyo.

Canada’s Tokyo hopefuls are pivoting and adapting on a daily basis to changing training and competition schedules because of the pandemic.

Canada’s swim trials initially scheduled for April were delayed to May, and again to June.

Time spent on the phone with corporations, police and credit monitoring companies feels draining to Hayden.

“Last week, it was way too much time,” Hayden said. “I was late to every single practice. I couldn’t get out the door on time because of this.

“We’re dealing with COVID and still trying to figure out how we can keep training. Every single week we’re constantly adapting schedules and making micro-changes.”

“Then you throw this on that, you’re like ‘what is going on?’”

Duo Bank, which administers the Walmart Mastercard, said credit card fraud is an industry problem.

“We have processes in place to identify accounts and close them immediately upon notification,” Duo Bank said in a statement.

“Victims of fraud like this are never responsible for purchases made with credit cards fraudulently opened in their name. In this case, we have been in touch with the customers.”

Hayden’s basic information gleaned from a list could have provided enough for scammers to apply for a credit card, said University of Calgary professor Tom Keenan, who authored the book “Technocreep: The Surrender of Privacy and the Capitalization of Intimacy.”

“Credit card companies are in the business of having you open credit cards, so they do their best to make it as easy as possible,” Keenan said.

“My speculation is there was a list and it got into the wrong hands. Somebody said ‘oh, these will be good people to scam.’

“To my mind, there was a list with just enough information on these athletes that you could take it and go get credit cards.”

Elite athletes tend to include their birthdays and hometowns in their online profiles, which can also assist scammers, he said.

Keeping your birthdate off-line is one way to thwart scammers, Keenan advised. Installing credit monitoring on accounts and being stingy with information while travelling overseas are others.

The Canadian Olympic Committee is aware that some Tokyo hopefuls are dealing with credit card chaos, and said its databases are secure.

“We were concerned to hear that Team Canada athletes may be being targeted for fraud,” COC chief executive officer Dave Shoemaker said in a statement.

“The COC has a robust (information technology) infrastructure in place and includes constant security monitoring.

“We will explore opportunities to provide cybersecurity awareness education for Team Canada members and stakeholders.”

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