London 2012 Olympics: Touts and websites face new inquiries
HUNDREDS of touts and 30 websites suspected of illegally selling Olympics tickets face new investigations, weeks before the London 2012 Games.
Police have compiled a new “watch list” of nearly 1000 touts, many of whom are linked to serious organised crime, and 30 sites outside Britain suspected of being involved in the multi-billion sports ticket black market.
Authorities are also investigating British touts who have attempted to breach the official website selling Olympics tickets 38 days ahead of the Opening Ceremony.
The unnamed touts are said to have made at least 100 attempts to buy seats in order to resell them illegally, but were thwarted by Scotland Yard detectives.
Almost 200 people have been arrested for a range of offences, with warnings of further raids over the coming weeks as interest in the Olympic Games intensifies.
It comes just days after the International Olympic Committee launched an investigation into claims of corruption among foreign agents and officials supplying tickets to the London Games.
Last night detectives from Operation Podium, the Metropolitan Police task force established to tackle Olympic-related internet crime, arrested an unnamed 39 year-old man following a raid on a business address in central Leicester.
Police said the arrest, supported by Leicestershire detectives, was part of an ongoing investigation into the “unauthorised sale of Olympic and Paralympic tickets as part of a corporate hospitality package”.
Detectives have been involved in several “significant covert operations” at major events including Wimbledon, Premier League games and music concerts over the past 18 months.
Det Ch Insp Nick Downing, the officer-in-charge of the task force, said the operations were designed to ''pre-empt and disrupt” tout activities ahead of the Games.
''By taking action now we are making this a hostile environment for them to operate in,'' he said.
"The Games are a fantastic sporting event and as we have seen, there has been a huge demand for tickets. Unfortunately there will be criminals who seek to exploit this.
"At this time when the majority of tickets have been sold, the public need to be more wary than ever about buying from an unauthorised source."
Detectives have arrested 186 people with 100 facing charges, including 35 for ticket touting 29 for fraud involving ticket sales, 10 for identity cards and three for money laundering.
More than 960 people involved in previous ticket frauds or similar crimes, have been sent letters warning them to stay away from the Games.
Interpol is also helping with investigations of possible overseas ticket fraud involving a handful of websites in the United States.
Scotland Yard believe its “hit list” contain details of individuals who are known to have links to serious organised crime.
One Belgium-based tout is being hunted amid claims they tried to sell large quantities of tickets while officers were working with the US national Olympic committee over several unauthorised websites in America.
An international ticketing company in Norway has been summonsed next month over 22 alleged offences of illegal sale of Olympic tickets.
The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games have said 55 websites are ''unauthorised'' to sell tickets.
Police have asked anyone who has bought tickets from two websites www.2012-londonsummergames.org and www.2012-londonsummergames.com to come forward.
The IOC this week ordered its ethics committee to start an immediate investigation into the conduct of some Olympic officials and authorised ticket resellers involving 54 countries after undercover reporters from the Sunday Times found they were allegedly touting tickets on the black market.
At the Beijing Olympics there was a global ticket scam which caught out 10,000 customers, including the parents of swimmer Rebecca Adlington.
Anybody reselling Olympic tickets faces fines of up to £20,000 under the Olympic Act 2006.