Two arrested after Northants dance schools offered fraudulent place in Olympic ceremony


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The Independent Online

A 35-year-old man and 31-year-old woman have been arrested in Northampton and London as part of an ongoing investigation into a potential fraud in the run-up to the Olympics.

The arrests were made by officers from Operation Podium, which is investigating what appears to be a fraudulent offer to dance schools in the Northamptonshire area, for their pupils to participate in the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games.

Podium, which is supported by Northamptonshire Police, is also investigating approaches to a number of companies across the UK to provide sponsorship. The company police believe to be at the heart of the fraud is called RWB Project, Midlands.

Detectives have visited the principals of the dance schools affected this morning to explain what has happened. Investigators and local officers will be making attempts to notify and reassure other potential victims.

Detective Superintendent Nick Downing from Operation Podium said: "It is vitally important at this early stage of the investigation that we alert those parents and children potentially affected and share with them what we know at this time. For many of those affected this will be incredibly disappointing news and will cause concern and sadness.

"Our investigation to date has shown that three dance schools have signed up to what they believed to be participating in the Closing Ceremony of the Olympic Games. Up to 75 children aged 9 to 19 have been rehearsing and planning for this day.

"What we will do is carry out a thorough investigation that establishes exactly what has taken place and provide whatever answers we can to those affected. I would ask anyone who thinks they may have been affected by this to get in contact with us."

Chief Superintendent Paul Fell, Territorial Commander for Northamptonshire Police, said:

"It is of concern that local people in this county could potentially be involved in such an incident.

"There will be obvious upset with families where young people have been working hard in practising for an event of such importance in which they have been led to believe that they will be involved.

"We will continue to work with colleagues in the Metropolitan Police to ensure that where people may have committed offences they are brought to justice and reassure local people that this will take place."

The investigation was started on Tuesday after a referral was made to the police by the Olympic organisers Locog, which cirmed that the company run by the two people arrested is not in anyway associated with the Olympic or Paralympic Games.

A London 2012 spokesperson said, "We are appalled that these young people appear to have been misled in such a way. The matter is in the hands of the police and we will assist the investigation in any way we can."

When asked about the possibility of fitting in any pupils who were under false expectations of appearing at the closing ceremony, the spokesman said they would unfortunately have to remain disappointed: "We have undertaken extensive auditions for our ceremonies and plans for them are well developed and so it is not possible to add new performers at this stage.'