Crackdown begins on 2012 touts

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The Independent Online

The crackdown on ticket touts and fraudsters at the London 2012 Games has begun, organisers and police declared today.

London 2012 chairman Lord Coe said: "We do not want the greatest sporting event on earth to become the greatest scam on earth.

"It is illegal to subvert this process. It is illegal to sell an unauthorised ticket."

To combat the flood of bogus websites that are expected to spring up, sports fans will be able to tap in a special website checker to ensure they are buying tickets from an official seller.

The checker will go live on March 15 when tickets go on sale.

It will verify whether a ticket website is real and also guide you towards an official source. "We are very proud of this," London 2012 chief executive Paul Deighton said.

Special software will also pick up "unusual patterns" of buying and all tickets will have in-built security measures making their origin traceable, he said.

Buyers will be able to resell their tickets through London 2012 at face value.

Tickets can be bought and shared between families and friends so long as no one is making a profit.

London 2012 also has National Olympic Committees (NOC), which could possibly pass on tickets, in their sights.

Mr Deighton warned: "NOC applications will be based against their markets.

"If they have not had a history in that sport or any participation there - their allocation will be low."

London 2012 organisers, who have already bought up "several hundred" domain names, are in talks with websites like eBay to ensure there are filters to block resale.

"Without a valid ticket you will not be able to get into the Olympic Park or then into the venue," according to Mr Deighton.

The idea is to use every aspect of the law, ranging from a fine of up to £5,000 under the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006, through to fraud laws, seizure of assets, Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (Asbos) and tight bail conditions banning touts from venues.

London 2012 has opted for a "fans in front" approach to sales, arguing the chance of tickets being resold is drastically cut if they are sold to genuine fans.

Metropolitan Police Detective Chief Inspector Nick Downing, of the Specialist Crime Directorate, also suggested the long six-week application period up to April 26 at 11.59pm, should help to ensure the system does not crash and make would-be buyers vulnerable to bogus websites.

Detectives are targeting "hundreds moving in to thousands" of touts, most of whom are British and try to exploit high-profile events globally.

Organised ticket gangs can expect to make "millions" from illegal sales but Mr Downing warned: "We aim to disrupt them from now all the way through to 2012."

A spokeswoman for eBay confirmed they are working closely with London 2012.

She said: "The resale of Olympic tickets is illegal and we are working closely with the organisers of the Games to ensure tough and effective filters are in place to identify and remove such tickets if anyone attempts to sell them.