Madrid, Spain, Oct 26 – Spanish police announced the arrest of seven suspects Friday in a fake tickets scam that cost Barcelona football club 1.5 euros million ($1.7 million).
Fraudsters sold more than 2,800 fake tickets for a match between Barcelona and Real Madrid last May, at Barcelona’s Camp Nou stadium.
At least eight businesses were involved in the fraud, a statement from the Guardia Civil police said.
They got hold of Barcelona club supporters’ QR (Quick Response) codes, a type of identifying bar code, to create the fake tickets and sell them at inflated prices, the statement said.
Barcelona suspended the accounts of the subscribers involved and 33 of them found to have used this practice in the past, had their subscription cancelled for good.
Officers carried out raids at 12 addresses Friday, offices and the homes of suspects, mainly in Barcelona, police said. An updated police statement however revised the number of people arrested down from 10 to seven.
Investigators have to decide to what extent the businesses involved knowingly engaged in the fraud, before deciding whether to bring charges of “criminal organisation”.
Barcelona called for an end to fraud by “organised mafia” and businesses, in a statement posted on its website Friday.
Barcelona’s “El Clasico” matches against rivals Real Madrid have long been hot-ticket events in the Spanish league calendar.