Every year millions of Muslims from around the world make the journey to Mecca and Medina, Saudi Arabia, for the annual pilgrimage or Hajj and tens of thousands of British Muslims will have booked trips to Saudi Arabia to make the pilgrimage to the Mecca and celebrate Hajj.
They spend as much as £125 million on pilgrimages. However, in the coming weeks some of them may unfortunately find out that their trips have either been soured by sub-standard hotels and travel arrangements or completely destroyed by criminals selling scam Hajj packages for non-existent flights, accommodation and visas.
The fraudsters pose as legitimate travel operators who offer discounts of up to 50% off the usual price to make pilgrimages to Mecca. Some people may find out their tour bookings were never made and the fraudsters have stolen their money, leaving them stuck in the UK or stranded in Saudi Arabia. The Council of British Hajjis estimates that only 3% of victims report the fraud.
Avoiding Hajj Fraud
- Make sure your travel agent/tour operator is ATOL (Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing) protected
- Check that your travel agent/tour operator is accredited by the Saudi Embassy
- Check exactly what you are paying for
- Get everything in writing.