Ticket Crime report published

19 February 2013

Person holding up a message 'Tickets wanted for cash!'

The Met Police are today (Tuesday 19 February) publishing its report “Ticket Crime: Problem Profile” as a result of learning by Operation Podium, the dedicated unit set up to tackle serious and organised economic crime affecting the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The report looks at three types of ticket crime (fraud, counterfeit and unauthorised ticket resellers), and sets out a number of recommendations on how this crime can be minimised through raising public awareness, closer collaboration with partners and industry.

Apart from the resale of football tickets for designated matches, the resale of tickets is not illegal. However, the report identifies the need for an open and transparent ticketing market underpinned by regulation and/or legislation, which will help consumers to understand who they are buying from and therefore better protect themselves against ticket crime.

Other recommendations include:

  • Law enforcement to strengthen relationships with overseas website registrars and hosting companies in order to expedite website suspensions;
  • Encouraging victims to report suspected offences to the authorities and agencies such as Action Fraud to ascertain a more accurate picture of the scale of this crime and take appropriate action;
  • Industry needs to build relationships with search engine companies, website hosts/registrars and payments sector in order to prevent and mitigate ticket crime;

Established in June 2010, Operation Podium was created to combat organized crime affecting the Olympic Economy. Ticket crime was identified early on as a top priority, due to the anticipated high level of demand for tickets for the Games.

Operation Podium worked closely with London 2012 and a range of partners across the ticketing industry and payment services, as well as law enforcement colleagues across the UK and internationally, to employ a range of innovative tactics to target touts and other criminals involved in ticket crime in the lead up to and during the Games. This included the suspension of unauthorised or fraudulent websites, in partnership with the payment services, removal of merchant facilities, sharing of data with law enforcement partners to disrupt activity and raising awareness of ticketing crime through the media and partner agencies.

Detective Superintendent Nick Downing, who leads Operation Podium, said:

“Operation Podium was set up specifically for the Games in recognition of the risk posed by serious economic crime against the huge number of people who we knew would be looking to enjoy these fantastic once in a life time sporting events, a risk that unfortunately comes as a result of criminals who will always look for opportunities to exploit such major events."

"However, experience shows that fraud is the most prevalent form of ticket crime and causes the greatest harm - conservatively estimated at £40 million per year; criminals involved in this are also highly likely to be involved in other crimes."

"We also know that it is extremely under reported, and there is a lack of public awareness and understanding which means that people find it difficult to distinguish between an authorised, unauthorised or fraudulent websites."

"For these reasons it is important that ticket crime is properly tackled and the awareness is raised on how the public can take steps to protect themselves from becoming a victim of these crimes. These recommendations are based on our findings over the last two and a half years and provides a basis on which we will now work with the Home Office and partners on developing a workable and effective model to continue tackling ticket crime across the UK.”

"Operation Podium would not have achieved the success that it did without the close working partnership with members of the ticketing industry, sharing good practice and working alongside them to develop new ways of combating these crimes."

"Although Operation Podium will officially close at the end of March, the Met will continue to work with industry partners to mitigate the risk of ticketing crime through Operation Sterling."

Jonathan Brown, on behalf of The Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR) and its members said today;
“We welcome today’s report and were very pleased to co-operate with the officers on Operation Podium during their investigations into the ticket market in the lead up to London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

“This industry has never before benefited from such concentrated work to help uncover criminality and fraud which continue to cause detriment to the ticket buying public.

“We are grateful for the support from Operation Podium during the launch of STAR’s kite mark for identifying authorised ticket sellers in 2011.”

Edward Ashwell, on behalf of the Major Events, Ticketing and Hospitality Forum said;
“This report shows that the hard work of operation Podium and the results achieved before and during the Olympics indicate that the initiative was very worthwhile and that ticket crime is not a petty crime, it is part of serious, organized, international criminality that has operated, largely untouched for many years but which can be tackled effectively if the will to do so is demonstrated and if the ticketing industry works together alongside the police and Government.”

Anyone with information or who wishes to report a fraud should contact Action Fraud 24 hours a day, seven days a week via their website (refer to related links section) or telephone reporting is also available on 0300 123 2040 - opening hours apply.