An Indian expatriate who is a tour operator in Sharjah has been arrested in the case of defrauding 150 UAE nationals in the name of Hajj pilgrimage. The case is that he cheated people by taking millions of dirhams in advance without returning them, knowing that they would not get a chance to perform Hajj.
Shabin Rasheed (44), owner of the Sharjah-based Baitul Ateeq travel agency, was detained by Dubai Police earlier this month, Khaleej Times reported. The news comes in June 2023 that about 150 Emiratis who had paid and waited to go for Hajj were cheated. All money was paid in advance.
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Shabin Rasheed claimed that the problems were caused by Saudi Arabia’s last-minute change in the issuance of Hajj visas. The apologetic Rasheed also promised to return the money when he gets it through the resale of hotels booked for Hajj. The arrest was made after a few people filed a complaint as they did not receive the money even after months. Reports of similar incidents in previous years also prompted the complaint.
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One of the complainants said that the Dubai Police informed them through a text message that the accused had been arrested. Saquib Imam, a resident of Dubai, said that he had paid Dh20,000 this time last year and has so far received only Dh5,000. A widow in Sharjah paid Dh130,000 to go on pilgrimage with her teenage son. 13 percent of the fund was returned when the complaint was filed.
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Earlier, Rasheed had claimed to have refunded money to 20 individuals but was unwilling to provide their details. Fazalullah (Dh50,400), Kamil Tahir Ghani (Dh30,000) and Muhammad Ashram (Dh25,000) were some of those who lost money. Due to Kovid-19, Saudi has reduced the Hajj quota of foreign countries in 2020 and 2021. Many who paid in 2020 complained that they have not received their refund yet.
It is reported that Baitul Ateeq Travels has collected around 3 million dirhams from 150 UAE residents for the Haj pilgrimage. Some complained to the police last August. Khaleej Times has found out that this is not the first time that Ateeq Travels has cheated pilgrims. Rasheed had previously explained that he was selling his property in India to repay the money and was considering filing a compensation case against the Saudi company citing financial loss, defamation and emotional damage.
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