The London Olympics are less than a year away, and the city’s Metropolitan Police force already has made more than 90 ticket-related arrests as part of its Operation Podium fraud investigation program.
Police said this week that the arrests were designed to send a message that nefarious activity around the Olympics will be thoroughly investigated.
Officials for the London Games have taken a hard line against ticket resale, and the UK government even passed an act making it illegal to resell Olympic tickets.
“Our approach is very much about a pre-emptive strike,” police spokesperson Nick Downing told the Telegraph. “We’ve looked at what activity is ongoing throughout the UK and internationally today. It’s our expectation that that activity will replicate itself for the Olympics. Bearing in mind it’s the biggest sporting event in the world, it’s going to be a massive opportunity for the criminals to exploit.”
London Olympics organizers will launch an authorized ticket exchange in January where fans can buy or sell tickets at face value. But Graham Burns, chairman of UK Association of Secondary Ticket Agents, told TicketNews that he believes organizers and the police are taking matters to the extreme.
“All this has done is disadvantaged the UK consumer,” Burns said. “With resale heading to other countries, UK fans have no recourse if something goes wrong.”
Burns said that the heavy investigative efforts are driving not only many touts overseas, but also legitimate ticket brokers. As a result, the local government is deprived of potential tax revenue from the resale of tickets.