British Muslims embarking on the Hajj pilgrimage are being warned to be on their guard from dubious and unscrupulous agents offering them last minutes Hajj packages.
CBHUK (The Council of British Hajjis) – the national pilgrim welfare charity has raised it concerns after being inundated with calls from pilgrims right across the country who were complaining of agents returning their passports without a Hajj visas or being told the Saudi Embassy had rejected their passports for one reason or another.
On investigation, the Council has learnt that the Licensed Hajj Organisers had said that majority of their members had received a fantastic service from the Saudi Embassy and that the passports had been processed in a timely manner. Many licensed companies had in fact sold out weeks ago owing to a rise in demand from families taking advantage of the Hajj season falling in the summer holidays.
It does appear that some agents either on the expectations of obtaining a Hajj License from the Saudi Hajj Ministry or via Sub agents had sold Hajj packages in advance only to find that the Hajj license did not materialise or that some agents had either over sold their packages or had simply been let down by other agents.
Hajj visas cannot be purchased separately and comes as part of a Hajj Package. CBHUK advises anyone wishing to book a Hajj Package to do so with Licensed Hajj Organisers who hold a Saudi Ministry of Hajj Licensed and are ATOL protected for total peace of mind and full financial protection.
Anyone who has been let down MUST NOT fall foul to agents or individuals who may exploit their situation by offering to obtain a Hajj visa or even a package for them as this will result in further financial losses and put your families into further anguish.
Victim of Hajj Fraud?
Please don’t suffer in silence or feel embarrassed about coming forward. It is very important that you report the crime to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or at www.actionfraud.police.uk so that others don’t fall victim to this type of crime, and those who are defrauding are brought to justice.
All reports are reviewed by the City of London Police’s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau and can be used to identify serial offenders and form the basis of police investigations by local forces. Only by knowing the true scale and nature of the threat can law enforcement effectively target the fraudsters who are causing most harm to the Muslim community.
If you are having consumer related problems with your Hajj travel provider, please contact your local trading standards via the Citzens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 040 506 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Here’s what to do:
Write a summary of the key facts in bullet points (don’t forget to state the Agents Full Trading Name, Address, Name of company staff/directors etc) and then follow the steps below:
1) Report to Action Fraud
Telephone: 0300 123 2040 or at www.actionfraud.police.uk
2) Report to local Police and obtain a crime reference number.
Ensure other pilgrims affected in your family or group by the tour operator/agent also report the same incident so that the authorities know the true extent of the issue.