A series of tips have been drawn up to help anyone considering booking a Hajj trip avoid falling victim to fraud.
Drawn up by police alongside the Council of British Hajjis, the tips include:
- Research – never book without carrying out some basic checks on your travel company
- Make sure your travel company is ATOL (Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing) protected by the Civil Aviation Authority
- Get everything in writing
- Do not pay by cash or direct bank transfer into an individual’s account
A Birmingham man has become the voice of a national campaign urging Muslims considering performing Hajj this year to take care when booking the trip.
Mohammed lost £4,500 when he fell victim to dodgy travel agents.
Mohammed tells his story in a video put together by City of London Police as part of the awareness campaign.
In August, ITV News Central reported how Birmingham City Council Trading Standards officers targeted a number of suspected cowboy traders in a series of raids in the city.
Officers at West Midlands Police have issued a fresh warning to pilgrims hoping to perform Hajj following reports of rogue traders operating in the region.
They say the cowboy travel agents lure people in with cut-price offers, but then leave the unsuspecting customer high and dry and out of pocket.
It comes just weeks after Birmingham City Council's Trading Standards team issued a similar warning, urging people to book through legitimate travel agents.
Police and the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau have drawn up an advice leaflet for anyone who has been a victim of Hajj fraud.
Rogue travel agents operating across the Midlands are targeting Muslims in the run up to the religious pilgrimage of Hajj.
Bogus traders are selling travel packages to Saudi Arabia without the necessary licences and insurance. Birmingham City Council is cracking down on the problem to ensure that customers don't get ripped off and robbed the experience. Watch the full report:
The Head of Trading Standards Birmingham has urged people to contact the agency if they are victims of 'rogue tour operators' when booking their Hajj pilgrimage.
Sajeela Naseer says the victims should not worry that the 'rogue operator' may be a member of the local community, and should report them so they can be properly investigated.
There have been worries over claims that some agencies have been exploiting those that are planning on making the trip to Saudi Arabia.
Trading Standards has issued advice to travellers on what they should ensure their tour operators offer:
- Information on travel insurance or the need to take out insurance if it is not provided in their package.
- An Air travel Operators' License (ATOL) receipt. This makes sure the customer will not have to pay extra to be returned to the UK.
- Itineraries (Schedule of events).
- Details of flights, accommodation and transport. Customers will need to know dates, times, names of service providers, and details regarding any connections or changes that are relevant to them.
Community leaders in Birmingham are urging people travelling on a Hajj pilgrimage to avoid rogue tour operators when they book their trip.
Muslim residents are being urged by Trading Standards at Birmingham City Council to book their Hajj pilgrimages with a trustworthy travel agent.
Following on from a number of complaints from people who have previously booked Hajj packages with unscrupulous agents, Trading Standards has compiled a check list for those planning to make the trip to Saudi Arabia.
Every year, millions of Muslims from around the world make the journey to Makkah, Saudi Arabia, for the annual pilgrimage. Dressed in the same simple white clothing to represent human equality, the pilgrims gather to perform rites dating back to the time of Abraham.