Your source for information about hosting a charity golf tournament.
Online Charity Golf Insurer, Hole-in-One.com, faces five felony counts of selling insurance without a license after a Seattle area investigation and sting in which several local charities cooperated with police. King County prosecutors claim Hole-In-One founder, Keven Kolenda, 54,failed to pay prizes when several Seattle-area golfers connected on hole-in-ones insured by the company.
Prosecutor, Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, says Kolenda has been "on the state's radar for some time." Kreidler's office claims to have been warning the public about what the commission calls "Mr. Kolenda's scam" for years. Kreidler's office issued Hole-In-One a cease and desist order back in 2004, though that fact is not apparently well-know in the charity community. Kreidler claims Kolenda "...has a long history of selling illegal insurance, refusing to pay prize winners, and thumbing his nose at regulators."
The Seattle Times reports that Kolenda has refused to pay prizes due golfers in at least three cases in Washington and to pay a $125,000 fine that dates back to 2004. Kolenda is also accused of criminal activities in Montana, Ohio, Georgia, California, New York, Hawaii, Alabama, Massachusetts, Florida, Connecticut and North Carolina. One Seattle TV news may have misreported the name of the company as "Hole-in-One". Kolenda's company has most recently gone by "Hole-in-Won"
This is a disturbing story because Mr. Kolenda approached me last year for some free advertising and tried to get me to change his logo for Hole-In-One's. That should have sent up flares at the time, but like a typical charity, I thought it was an honest mistake and that Kevin had merely confused his company with "Hole-in-One International". He has since been removed as a member of Charity Golf Network.
Turns out North Carolina, Connecticut, Washington, Massachusetts, Texas, Nevada, Alabama, Virginia and Oregon have all issued cease and desist orders barring the company from selling insurance in their states, court documents said. He has also been indicted in Montana and is scheduled for arraignment there. Kolenda faces hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines in those states, according to court documents.
Kolenda has taken the stance that he's not an "insurer", making the ludicrous claim that "There's no state statute saying that Hole-in-Won is an insurance product.
Unfortunately, stories like these don't make it to places where charities typically see them and frauds and scam artists can work their cons for an awfully long time without getting caught because charities are essentially trusting by nature. As a result these naughty people fleece charities out of thousands of dollars. It's a good idea to check potential charity golf prize insurers carefully before parting with sponsor's money to pay for hole-in-one prizes. Call your state's insurance board or commission and ask about specific companies that are offering to sell you insurance. They'll probably be able to identify any unscrupulous company who may approach you to provide vendor support for your tournament.
If you have any questions about the trustworthiness of a charity golf service or insurance provider, you can always post a query on our forum board and we'll check it out for you. I'm adding a category to the forum on Vendor Problems. Please feel free to post regarding problems you have and we'll do our best to help you.. At the very least it will give the rest of us a heads up so we can avoid problem vendors.
It's a shame that we have to be so careful. Charities might be forgiven for believing they ought to be protected from such predation. Sadly, they are often seen as easy targets by con men and thieves.