Touting for criminal business

As far as I can tell from a little research (and I am more than happy to be corrected here), the resale of tickets for events through secondary agents (often called touts) is not illegal in the UK.  The only exceptions (according to the Society of Ticket Agents & Retailers) are tickets for football matches, and tickets to events at the London 2012 Olympics.  There are other dangers associated with buying from touts (the ticket might be counterfeit, you’ll almost certainly pay over the odds, there is no automatic right to refund or rescheduling) – but unless it’s footie or Limpics, it’s not illegal.

Try to tout tickets for London 2012, however, and the wrath of the Met’s “Operation Podium” will be visited upon you.  Under the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006, the sale of unauthorised tickets is punishable by a £20,000 fine.  Met undercover officers have been mingling with the crowds outside venues, and several people have already been charged with touting.  Other opportunists have also been caught: three men were arrested for posing as police officers in order to steal cash and credit cards from tourists, while two others were caught in possession of two stolen Olympic lane passes (allowing the holders to zip around London in the special lanes – don’t pretend you haven’t dreamt of it yourself).  And stories continue to emerge of members of the “Olympic family” selling on their specially-allocated and often tip-top tickets – despite those tickets being clearly marked “Not for Resale”.  This is a separate issue from a country continuing to sell its allotted allocation of Olympic tickets, as when – in a typically measured response, and in the spirit of scientific enquiry – The Sun sent a reporter to the Business Design Centre in Islington, where the Czech Olympic Committee is based, to buy fistfuls of Olympic tickets from them.  Which is entirely legal.  It’s all very confusing, but I feel sure that criminals will have worked out the best way to make money from it.

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