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May 20, 2019

British pilgrims warned of online Hajj scams

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May 20, 2019

BIRMINGHAM: The Association of British Hujjaj-United Kingdom (ABH-UK) has issued a stern warning about the threat of rogue and unscrupulous tour and travel operators who try to con pilgrims with fraudulent activities and malpractice.

Regrettably, in recent years a substantial number of pilgrims were victims of Hajj scams in which they lost large sums of money. These criminal and rogue tour operators sell Hajj packages online through some fake websites and vanish near the Hajj time leaving pilgrims stranded and in total devastation and trauma, the ABH-UK, a national Hajj specific charity working for the welfare and wellbeing of pilgrims, said in a statement on Sunday.

Every year over 25,000 British Hajj pilgrims travel to Saudi Arabia. It is highly deplorable that the rogue Hajj tour and travel operators indulge in all sorts of illegal and immoral activities, causing extreme hardship, trauma, financial exploitation, and mental anguish to these travellers.

The most alarming aspect of this growing culture of exploitation and corruption is that these service providers prey on vulnerable pilgrims, including sick, elderly and disabled, and take undue advantage of these travellers by charging extortionate prices for their services, which are often not delivered as promised in the UK.

The ABH has strongly urged pilgrims to be aware of fake websites and online scams and should not book their packages online. They should visit personally to the offices of tour and travel operators to ensure that they are genuine businesses. Only licensed holders tour operators are authorised by the Saudi government to take pilgrims for the pilgrimage.

Every Hajj travel company selling Hajj packages is required by UK legislation and Ministry of Hajj Saudi Arabia to hold an Air Travel Organiser’s Licence (ATOL).

In case the Hajj company stops trading, the ATOL scheme protects prospective pilgrims by ensuring they do not get stranded abroad or lose money.

The ABH also strongly urged the prospective pilgrims that if they are a victim of any fraudulent activity, they must report this crime to the police and Trading Standards and not suffer in silence.

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