Hajj-related fraud: City of London Police urge vigilance as UK Muslim pilgrims plan for Hajj 2023
The City of London Police, together with key partners, is warning prospective Hajj pilgrims to be vigilant against fraud as they begin booking trips to Mecca for June 2023.
Thousands of British Muslims are expected to book their once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage, but in previous years, victims have lost thousands of pounds and their chance to fulfil this sacred duty.
Commander Umer Khan, from City of London Police, said:
“Hajj fraud not only results in significant financial loss, but also shatters the dreams of those who have saved for years to make this once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage.
“We’re working closely with our industry partners to raise awareness and provide guidance on avoiding scams. It is crucial for pilgrims to book through the official Saudi Government Hajj Platform and report any concerns to Action Fraud.
“Together, we can help protect the spiritual journey of thousands of British Muslims and prevent criminals from exploiting their faith and trust.”
The extent of Hajj-related fraud is believed to be higher than reported, as many victims may feel too embarrassed or frightened to come forward.
To combat this issue, authorities recommend booking Hajj packages exclusively through the official Saudi Arabian government website, accessible via the Foreign Office website. Anyone who suspects they have fallen victim to Hajj-related fraud should report it to Action Fraud.
Fraudulent tactics may include fake websites posing as the official booking site or agents insisting on managing bookings and funds. Pilgrims should book their own travel through the Saudi website, even if they consult a Hajj and Umrah expert for guidance.
To avoid Hajj-related fraud, authorities recommend the following tips:
- Book Hajj packages only through the official Saudi Government Hajj Platform.
- Be aware that official Hajj packages are not ATOL protected. Seek advice from official trade bodies if unsure.
- Beware of fake websites attempting to steal money. Access the correct Hajj Portal via the link on the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office official webpage.
- Retain all receipts and details when making cash payments. Follow the advice on the Hajj Portal regarding where and how to send them, without relying on third-party agents.
To report Hajj-related fraud, contact Action Fraud online at www.actionfraud.police.uk or call 0300 123 2040. In Scotland, reports can be made by calling Police Scotland on 101.
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