Police issue fraud warning to Redbridge Hajj pilgrims

The 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.

The Council of British Hajjis [CBHUK] estimates that 300 people contacted them in 2011 as victims of Hajj fraud, but only one per cent reported the crime to police.

The Metropolitan Police advise people to avoid the fraud by ensuring travel agents are ATOL protected and accredited by the Saudi embassy.

It is also advisable to check the details of the package and get all agreements in writing.

MPS Deputy Assistant Commissioner and chair of The London Muslim Communities Forum, Steve Kavanagh, said: “Hajj fraud is a particularly cruel crime which robs people of the means to make what could have been their once in a lifetime trip to Mecca.

“By working together with the Muslim Community to raise awareness of Hajj fraud, we can stop the criminals who cause so much misery and help to protect those planning to make their own pilgrimage in 2012.”

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The annual pilgrimage will be from October 24 to 29 and around 25,000 pilgrims are expected to travel from Britain to Mecca.

People who think they have been a victim of Hajj fraud should contact Redbridge Police, Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or OFT Consumer Direct on 08454040506.