The Council of British Hajjis are advising pilgrims booking last minute Hajj packages to beware of unscrupulous tour operators and fraudsters who steal thousands of pounds from pilgrims travelling to Mecca (Makkah).
The criminals pose as legitimate travel operators, often offering discounts of up to 50 per cent on the normal price, but shortly before the departure the tour operator closes leaving the victim with no tour and no refund.
In recent years as many as 600 Muslims reported falling victim to Hajj Fraud, some losing as much as £20,000 and being left to sleep on the streets of Makkah.
There are a number of things you can to avoid falling victim to Hajj fraud:
- Make sure your travel agent/tour operator is ATOL (Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing) protected
- Check that your travel agent/tour operator is accredited by the Saudi Embassy
- Check exactly what you are paying for
- Get everything in writing
- Make sure you obtain receipts for any money paid and conduct payments by credit card or via the bank
Rashid Mogradia CEO of the CBH said “Whilst the majority of Hajj & Umrah Tour Operators provide an excellent service, there are some that operate in a rouge capacity often acting as sub agents and not delivering on their promises. We urge anyone who has or knows anyone that has fallen victim to such fraud, to report it to the police as this is theft and deception”.
If you have fallen victim, please do not suffer in silence of feel embarrassed about coming forward Asif Sadiq, who is the chairman of the Muslim Consultative Committee said: “The Muslim community needs to ensure that all its members are aware of Hajj fraud and stress how important it is for them to support the police in any way that will help them bring these criminals to justice.”
If you think you have been a victim of Hajj fraud, call your local police or the Action fraud helpline on 0300 123 2040. For more information and advice visit www.cbhuk.org
For those booked for Hajj, the Foreign & commonwealth Office will be on hand to offer consular support and a group of Voluntary doctors will be in Mina offering Medical Support.
Notes to editors:
The Council of British Hajjis is a not-for-profit charity working for the welfare of British pilgrims and promotes health & Safety at Hajj and run travel clinics across the united Kingdom. It is the Only Hajj & Umrah specific charity to be the official partner of the Foreign & Commonwealth Offices’ “Know Before You Go” campaign and works closely with other statutory bodies and partner for the betterment of Hajj & Umrah & Overseas travel.