December 12 2013 Latest news:
Lizzie Dearden, Reporter
Friday, August 16, 2013
Police are warning Redbridge families going on Hajj to avoid losing thousands of pounds in travel package scams.
Criminals posing as legitimate travel operators take money in advance for discounted Hajj deals, before disappearing and leaving pilgrims with no package and no refund.
Thousands of British families are expected to make the pilgrimage to Mecca, in Saudi Arabia, which begins on October 13.
It is thought to be the largest annual gathering in the world. Last year there were 44 reports of Hajj fraud made to police, but officers think the scale of the crime could be far greater.
Rashid Mogradia, chief executive of the Council of British Hajjis, said this year will be a “particular challenge” as the quota for pilgrims worldwide has been reduced by 20 per cent.
He added: “We expect demand to exceed supply and urge the community to exercise due diligence and book directly with licensed tour operators who are approved by the Ministry of Hajj.”
Victims of fraud should contact Redbridge police’s Action Fraud unit on 0300 123 2040 or the Office of Fair Trading on 0845 404 0506.