Police to crack down on fake London 2012 ticket websites

Operation Podium hopes to learn lessons from Take That ticket frenzy

The Metropolitan Police has set up a specialist unit to tackle London 2012-related cybercrime.

In particular, the unit Operation Podium will target fake websites claiming to sell tickets for the Olympic Games. The 6.6 million genuine tickets for the Olympic and Paralympic Games will go on sale on 15 March.

Detective Chief Inspector Nick Downing told the BBC: "Someone may travel from a distant part of the UK, coming to London thinking that they have tickets for the 100m final for which they have paid thousands of pounds, only to find they have no accommodation, no ticket and no experience of a lifetime.

"I don't want London to be associated with that."

Operation Podium aims to combat organised crime around London 2012, and has made 37 arrests in the past six months. The unit is currently running 16 operations.

Downing said that his team had monitored the chaos around the release of Take That tickets last October, which had given some clues to how bogus ticket sites would operate.

Before the tickets were on sale, around six unlicensed sites were set up, which Downing said increased to "hundreds" on the day of release. People who were unable to buy tickets from authorised websites, some of which crashed due to the high level of traffic, were therefore more vulnerable to the fake sites.

In order to avoid an overload on its systems, the London 2012 plans to issue tickets via a ballot, with the application process being open for six weeks.

The organisers are also working with the police to develop a legitimate scheme for people to resell and swap tickets, to avoid using touts.

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