Abta issues Hajj travel fraud warning

Abta issues Hajj travel fraud warning

Pilgrims planning to travel to the Hajj in Saudia Arabia next month have been warned about the dangers of booking with unlicensed travel companies.

Abta issued the warning today, saying that every year people pay for travel arrangements to the Hajj that are “sub-standard, or in the worst cases, non-existent,” leaving victims out of pocket by thousands of pounds.

An estimated 25,000 pilgrims are expected to travel from the UK to attend the Hajj between October 24-29.

“Every year pilgrims pay thousands of pounds for specialist Hajj flight and accommodation arrangements. However, pilgrims should be aware of the dangers of booking with unlicensed travel companies,” Abta cautioned.

The City of London Police are so concerned about the problem that they have produced an advice leaflet for Hajj pilgrims while also encouraging victims of fraudulent traders to report the matter.

Only 10% of victims of Hajj fraud are estimated by the Association of British Hujajj (pilgrims) to report the crime.

Abta risk, claims and membership administration manager Steve Abrahamson said: “Every year the police and trading standards offices have to deal with cases of Hajj pilgrims who have lost substantial amounts of money or arrived in Saudi Arabia to find that their accommodation and other travel arrangements are of a much lower standard than they had paid for.

“For many Hajj is a once in a lifetime trip and fraudsters don’t just steal pilgrims’ money but the opportunity to fulfil a religious duty.

“Whether you are offering a Hajj trip or a holiday, the same laws apply and companies must have an Atol licence when selling flights and accommodation as a package or act as an agent for a company that does.”

He added: “Hajj pilgrims should always check that they are legitimate Abta members and that they hold an Atol licence when booking.

“Also, we would strongly encourage all victims of fraud or misrepresentation to go to trading standards offices or the police so that we can finally put a stop to this unscrupulous and dishonest practice.”

A number of court cases in Birmingham last year saw defendants accused of purporting to be members of Abta, Atol and Iata where this was not necessarily the case.


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