02/13/2013 09:14 EST | Updated 04/15/2013 05:12 EDT

Football players want answers after scouting camp swindle

Another player has come forward looking for answers after losing money on a football scouting camp in Mexico.

The camp called the Cancun Combine, which is run by sports agent Mark Maren, a Toronto native, offers players without contracts a chance to showcase their skills in front of scouts, coaches and general managers.

But a number of players, like St. Mary's University football player Damone Blackman, are out of pocket thousands of dollars after the camp was cancelled with little notice.

"I worked and saved up my money and got a couple of family friends to help me pay to get to Cancun and pay for my registration," said Blackman.

"And on the day I was leaving, in the morning I received an email saying that the combine was cancelled because the accommodations were filled."

That was the last Blackman heard from camp organizer Maren, who was decertified as an agent by the CFL players association last year.

Unknown to the players, Maren had started bouncing cheques the previous year.

Shannon Doane, a Halifax web designer, said Maren owes her $1,400 for web and design work.

"He knowingly wrote bad cheques off an account that was closed. He has made no attempt to contact any of the people he owes money to and I don't think this is a mistake on his part at all," she said.

In July 2011, he pleaded guilty in the U.S. to fraud related to bogus cheques. He had to pay fines and restitution of almost $18,000 to two banks and a Florida woman.

Camp a big hit last year

The camp which was scheduled for Jan. 31 to Feb. 3, and advertised that representatives of various football leagues, including the National Football League and the Canadian Football League, would attend to look at talent.

"It's a very huge deal, these opportunities don't come around every single day, you know you only get one shot and so I was ready to go at it," said Blackman.

Blackman lost more than $1,000, a small fortune for a university student.

"I stayed here for Christmas and decided not to go home and decided to stay here and to work and train and pay for this and by the time Christmas rolled around I had all the money saved up and was ready to go," he said.

Blackman said he called, sent emails but has received nothing back from Maren.

"I want to make sure he knows that it's not just me, there's a lot of other people out there that gave up a lot to be there, you know what I mean, to better their lives because it's a big dream for a lot of guys," he said.

Micah Brown, another football player from Halifax, was also supposed to attend the Cancun Combine.

He told CBC News when he called the resort that Maren said was over-booked, they told him that they did in fact have accommodations available. The resort had no idea why the players were told the resort was over-booked.

More than 70 players from Canada, the U.S. and even as far away as Japan paid to attend the camp, including five from Halifax.

It had gone off without a hitch last year. The camp was a big lure for rising stars.

Online testimonials on the Cancun Combine Facebook page indicate that last year's camp went off without a hitch, even claiming that 35 per cent of participants signed a professional contract.

Maren has still not returned repeated calls from CBC News.