LONDON — The maximum penalty for ticket touting at the London 2012 Olympics will be increased from £5,000 to £20,000, the Home Secretary said on Wednesday.
"The 2012 Games will be once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience the Games on home soil," said Theresa May.
"By increasing the fines for touting we are sending a clear message to criminals and prospective criminals that it is not worth their while and they are not welcome," she added.
The clampdown has been announced just before 8.8 million tickets for Olympic events go on sale on March 15. People will be able to apply for tickets for six weeks, until April 26. Tickets for the Paralympic Games go on sale on September 9.
The Metropolitan Police has a set up a special unit, Operation Podium, to deal specifically with touts and Olympic-related fraud. They have made 49 arrests since June last year, including five in early morning raids in London and Dorset on Tuesday.
The offences of those detained ranged from fraud, money-laundering, handling stolen goods and failure to appear at court.