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02 Sep 2016

BY Jennifer Morris

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Hajj pilgrims warned about fraudster risk

Abta is warning pilgrims travelling to Saudi Arabia for Hajj to be aware of the dangers of booking with “fraudulent or disreputable” travel firms.

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Hajj pilgrims warned of fraudster risk

A total of 25,000 people are estimated to be heading to the country from the UK for the five-day ritual in the next few days, spending up to £125 million on their combined travel arrangements.

 

Abta says every year sees individuals paying for travel arrangements that are sub-standard, or in the worst cases, non-existent, leaving victims out of pocket by thousands of pounds.

 

This year, Hajj takes place between September 9-14, with large sums being paid for specialist flights and accommodation arrangements.

Abta’s recommendations include carrying out some basic checks on the travel company being booked with and ensuring the travel company is a member of a recognised trade body.

 

Pilgrims are also advised to make sure their travel company is Atol-protected, ensure they have all confirmations in writing and refuse to pay travel companies by cash or by direct bank transfer into an individual’s account.

 

John de Vial, Abta’s director of financial protection, said: “Large sums of money can be at stake as flights and accommodation are at a premium due to massive demand.

 

“Fraudsters play on the fact that pilgrims are often not aware of the strict regulations in place governing the sale of package travel arrangements in the UK.

 

“In other cases, even when travel arrangements are provided, they are of a much lower standard than promised and in the worst cases the arrangements simply do not exist and pilgrims are left with no course of redress.”

Pilgrims are encouraged to look at on abta.com or call the Civil Aviation Authority on 020 7453 6700 to check if the company they are booking with is Abta or Atol-protected.

 

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

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