08 Oct

ABTA and the City of London Police warn about the dangers of Hajj fraud

With 25,000 pilgrims estimated to be heading overseas to Saudi Arabia from the UK for Hajj, ABTA and the City of London Police are warning all potential Hajj pilgrims about the dangers of booking with fraudulent or disreputable travel companies, which every year sees individuals paying for travel arrangements that are sub-standard, or in the worst cases, non-existent, leaving victims out of pocket by thousands of pounds.

In 2013 Hajj takes place between 13-18 October and every year pilgrims pay hundreds of thousands of pounds for specialist Hajj flight and accommodation arrangements. With thousands of pounds changing hands, pilgrims need to be aware of the dangers of booking with disreputable travel companies. 

The City of London Police is running a national campaign backed by ABTA with the Muslim community and local forces, to raise awareness of the threat posed to Muslims by Hajj fraudsters and to help those who have become victims of this deeply upsetting crime. The City of London police and ABTA recommend the following simple steps to minimise the risk of being the victim of fraud:

  • Do your research – Don’t book without carrying out some basic checks on your travel company
  • Make sure your travel company is a member of a recognised trade body, such as ABTA – The Travel Association
  • If you are booking a flight based package make sure your travel company is ATOL (Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing) protected by the Civil Aviation Authority
  • Get everything in writing
  • Do not pay the travel company by cash or direct bank transfer into an individual’s account

Steve Abrahamson ABTA Risk, Claims & Membership Administration Manager said: “Every year the Police and Trading Standards offices have to deal with cases of Hajj pilgrims who have lost substantial amounts of money or arrived in Saudi Arabia to find that their accommodation and other travel arrangements are of a much lower standard than they had paid for. Fraudsters exploit the fact that many pilgrims are unaware of the strict regulations set up to protect people booking travel arrangements.  But following the City of London police’s simple guidelines will help consumers avoid being the victims of Hajj fraudsters.” 

Hujjaj are encouraged to check on www.abta.com or with ATOL on 020 7453 6700 whether the company they are booking with is registered with either organisation. Victims of Hajj fraud should report to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or at www.actionfraud.police.uk

For more information and advice visit: www.abta.com/Hajj