Online football ticket scams shut down

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The Independent Football

More than 100 websites illegally selling tickets to Premier League football matches were shut down today.

Police officers swooped on the sites in a series of electronic raids, with just eight days to go until the start of the new season.

Officers believe the sites rake in millions of pounds from unsuspecting fans by selling fake tickets or taking the money and disappearing.

The police action, codenamed Operation Phyllite, focused on sites based all over the world, including eastern Europe, Russia and the United States.

No-one was arrested and no properties were raided as officers pulled the plug on internet infrastructure supporting the dodgy sites.

Dozens of other sites closed down voluntarily over the past few days after receiving warning letters from police.

It came as investigators gear up to tackle an anticipated surge of ticket fraud in the run-up to the 2012 Olympics.

Senior officers have already begun to monitor similar sites set up to con unsuspecting sports lovers travelling to Britain for the extravaganza.

Detective Superintendent Charlie McMurdie, who led the inquiry, said it is the first time any force has closed down so many sites simultaneously.

She said: "Fraudsters target the victim's desire to attend an event, knowing that they will pay out for the opportunity to be present at that all important one-off occasion.

"The risk begins when your desire to purchase the tickets blinds your judgment or leads you to unlawful websites. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is."