We work with the Muslim community to stop fraudsters who steal from pilgrims travelling to Mecca.
Every year more than two million Muslims celebrate Hajj by making the pilgrimage to Mecca in what is the world’s biggest annual gathering of people. Within this mass of humanity are thousands of UK citizens, many of whom will have saved for years in the knowledge that, for them, this will be a once-in-a-lifetime trip.
Unfortunately as Hajj approaches there will also be a significant number of Muslims who have paid for a tour package for themselves and their family only to discover their dreams have been shattered by fraudsters. Some will arrive in Saudi Arabia to discover the accommodation they booked does not exist while others will find that their whole trip is in fact a scam set up by illegitimate travel operators that have disappeared with thousands of pounds of their money.
Protect yourself and your loved ones
Do your research
Don’t book without carrying out some basic checks on your travel agency/ tour operator. A recommendation from a friend or family member does not guarantee the authenticity of the outfit. Go online and run a search on the travel company to see if other people have commented on their services.
Make sure your travel company is a member of a recognised trade association such as ABTA. All ABTA members have to follow a code of conduct and meet rigorous entry criteria, minimising the chance of fraudulent companies joining. You can verify a company’s ABTA membership.
If you are booking a flight-based package make sure your travel company is ATOL (Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing) protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
If the travel company closes down whilst you are in Saudi Arabia your return air ticket should still be valid but you will probably be asked to repay for your accommodation. You can claim this cost from the CAA as well as a refund of your money if you have not travelled yet. Visit the CAA website to check an ATOL.
Get everything in writing
Always get written terms and conditions as this details your contract with the travel company. Make sure your flight details, accommodation and Hajj visa are valid. Establish an auditable paper trail and keep records of financial transactions.
Do not pay the travel company by cash or by direct bank transfer into an individual’s account
Most legitimate companies will have facilities with a bank to accept credit or debit cards. If you do pay by bank transfer or cash and the company turns out to be fraudulent it will be virtually impossible to get your money back.