Rio 2016 ticket scalping starts in Brazil, even without the tickets

RIO DE JANEIRO -- Some people in Brazil are trying to scalp tickets for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics -- even before the tickets are issued.

Rio de Janeiro police investigator Gilberto Ribeiro said Tuesday that 10 people have been detected using social media trying to sell 712 ticket vouchers, to be exchanged for tickets, at up to double their face value. Ribeiro said many of the tickets were for "high-profile" events.

It is illegal in Brazil to resell tickets at above face value.

"I think this demonstrates that we're paying attention to this," Ribeiro said in an interview at a police headquarters wedged between two violent Rio slums. "I can't say we're going to be doing larger investigations. But we are watching it. We have very close contact with the local organizing committee."

The scalping is a bit of a paradox. Organizers have sold only half of the 3.5 million Olympic tickets allocated for Brazilians, with the games opening in four months.

Paralympic sales for Brazilians are about 12 percent of the current total.

Sales have probably been slowed by Brazil's deep recession, the outbreak of the Zika virus and Brazilians' tendency to buy at the last moment.

Rio spokesman Mario Andrada said sales should pick up after next week's draw for the Olympic football tournament, letting fans know where and when their favorite team will be playing. He said about 1 million tickets were available for football.

Ribeiro said his police unit on consumer crime was tipped off by the organizing committee of the games.

The investigator said the suspects have been identified and will be questioned. He declined to release names but said nine were from Sao Paulo and one from Rio, and nine out of 10 were men.

According to Ribeiro, the penalty is up to two years in jail.