The maximum penalty for ticket touting in connection with London Olympics 2012 has been raised from £5000 to £20,000 the government has announced.

In a statement, Mrs May said: “The change will ensure that there is a more substantial deterrent to serious and organised criminal groups.”

“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.”

How to buy tickets for London 2012 Olympics

London Olympics 2010 mascots v Canadian 2010 mascots

Mrs May also said that the aim of the governement was to “deliver a safe and secure Olympic and Paralympic Games that London, the UK and the world can enjoy. It will not be spoiled by ticket touts.”

Metropolitan Police unit Operation Podium, is dealing with any Olympic-related fraud, and officers have made 49 arrests since June last year.

London 2012 chairman Lord Coe said: “We want to get London 2012 tickets into the hands of enthusiastic sports fans so that our venues are packed to the rafters at Games-time and provide a fantastic atmosphere for the athletes.

“The message is loud and clear that ticket touts are not welcome and will face large fines.”

6.6 million tickets to the 2012 Olympics will go on sale to the public next week.

Anyone wishing to sell their unwanted tickets can use an official exchange system.