Abta issues warning over Hajj trips

Abta issues warning over Hajj trips

Pilgrims planning to travel to Saudi Arabia for Hajj next week are being warned about the dangers of booking with fraudulent or disreputable travel companies.

Every year people pay for travel arrangements that are sub-standard, or in the worst cases, non-existent, leaving victims out of pocket by thousands of pounds, Abta and the City of London Police warn today.

An estimated 25,000 pilgrims from the UK are expected to attend Hajj  between October 13-18.

They pay hundreds of thousands of pounds for specialist Hajj flight and accommodation.

But with thousands of pounds changing hands, pilgrims need to be aware of the dangers of booking with crooked travel companies.

The City of London Police is running a national campaign backed by Abta with the Muslim community and local forces, to raise awareness of the threat posed by Hajj fraudsters and to help those who have become victims.

Pilgrims planning to travel are being advised to following simple steps to minimise the risk of being the victim of fraud:

  • Do your research – don’t book without carrying out some basic checks on your travel company
  • Make sure your travel company is a member of a recognised trade body, such as Abta
  • If you are booking a flight-based package make sure your travel company is Atol protected by the Civil Aviation Authority
  • Get everything in writing
  • Do not pay the travel company by cash or direct bank transfer into an individual’s account

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.

“Fraudsters exploit the fact that many pilgrims are unaware of the strict regulations set up to protect people booking travel arrangements.

But following the City of London police’s simple guidelines will help consumers avoid being the victims of Hajj fraudsters.”

Hujjaj are encouraged to check on abta.com or with Atol on 020 7453 6700 whether the company they are booking with is registered with either organisation.

Victims of Hajj fraud should report to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or at actionfraud.police.uk

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