02 Oct

ABTA warns pilgrims to Saudi Arabia about the dangers of Hajj fraud

With 25,000 pilgrims estimated to be heading overseas to Saudi Arabia from the UK for Hajj in the next few days, ABTA is warning all potential Hajj pilgrims about the dangers of booking with fraudulent or disreputable travel companies. 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 2014 Hajj takes place between 2-7 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. 

ABTA recommends 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 whose Members follow a strict code of conduct
  • 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 and that you receive an ATOL certificate as soon as you exchange money
  • Get everything in writing
  • Do not pay the travel company by cash or direct bank transfer into an individual’s account.

Steve Abrahamson ABTA, Senior Manager, Financial Protection and Risk: “Fraudsters regularly target pilgrims travelling to Saudi Arabia as often large sums of money are at stake. Fraudsters rely on the fact that pilgrims may not be aware of the strict regulations in place governing the sale of package travel arrangements in the UK. In many cases travel arrangements are of a much lower standard than promised or in the worst cases simply do not exist.”

Pilgrims 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