What is Hajj fraud?
Up to 25,000 British Muslims will be booking trips to Mecca over the coming months to perform Hajj in the autumn.
As Hajj approaches, a number of individuals who have paid for a tour package for themselves and their family will discover their dreams have been shattered by fraudsters.
Some could arrive in Saudi Arabia to find the accommodation they booked does not exist. Others may realise that their whole trip is in fact a scam set up by illegitimate travel operators who have disappeared with thousands of pounds of their money.
Between 1 January 2017 and 31 December 2017 there were 17 reports of Hajj related fraud made to Action Fraud, marking a 143% increase on the previous year’s reporting figures. Hotspots for recorded offending were London, the West Midlands and Manchester.
Reports show that victims can lose anything from £1000 to £33,000 and between 2013 and 2017, the crimes had a total reported value of £988,743. The average age of a Hajj fraud victim is 42.
Law enforcement and figures within the Muslim community remain convinced that these numbers represent just the tip of the iceberg, with many victims feeling too embarrassed, ashamed or frightened to report what has happened to them.
Over the coming months, the City of London Police will be working with Birmingham Trading Standards to carry out visits and checks on relevant travel agents. More work will be done to help educate officers on how to help victims of Hajj fraud and to ensure correct reporting.