British Muslims targeted in Hajj scam – over $1 million lost.
Travel agency impostors have conned British Muslims out of more than $1 million. Fake travel agencies targeted British Muslims booking trips to perform the Hajj. The Hajj is a pilgrimage done every year to Mecca by followers of the Islamic faith. This is a trip often done by families together. Because the pilgrimage requires extensive travel, families often end up paying thousands to go. This unfortunately attracts people wishing to scam innocent travelers.
About 25,000 people from Britain are taking the pilgrimage to Mecca this year alone. Every year fraud occurs at this time by fake travel agency companies. Between 2013 and 2017 victims lost more than $1 million. Sometimes a family’s entire trip turns out to have been a scam. Other times accommodations are booked in Saudi Arabia only find out the hotel does not exist.
Although several Hajj travelers are targeted each year, complaints remain low. Action Fraud, a London-based fraud operation, claims there are a few reasons why Hajj-related complaints are low. Many victims feel “too embarrassed, ashamed or frightened to report what has happened.” The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) believes that many travelers are unaware of their rights.
Travel agencies should be members of an organization like ABTA. ABTA is an official organization. It ensures that travel agencies are actually selling customers what they pay for. Many first-time travelers do not know how important this is. Action Fraud urges all Hajj travelers to get everything in writing when they book their trips. Getting printed copies of every travel receipt is also advised.
When customers complain, perpetraitors are more likely to get caught. Fraud reports could help lower the amount of future scam victims. In 2017, Hajj travel complaints increased by 143 percent. This fraud proves that nothing is too sacred for scammers.