Wiltshire Police is supporting a national campaign that has been launched this week to prevent British Muslims falling victim to Hajj frauds when planning a pilgrimage to Mecca.
The campaign has been initiated by City of London Police, the UK’s policing lead for fraud, and supported by the Council of British Hajjis, Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) and Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
Each year up to 25,000 British Muslims are spending as much as £125 million to celebrate Hajj by making the pilgrimage to Mecca in what is the world’s biggest annual gathering of people. Many will have saved for years in the knowledge that this will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Regrettably, thieves also see this as an opportunity.
Between April 1 2015 and March 31 2016 Action Fraud received 49 reports of Hajj fraud across the UK, with an average loss of £2,651. Although this represents a 33% drop on the previous year’s reporting figures it is believed that many victims are failing to report the crime as they are too embarrassed or afraid to do so.
“The best way to protect yourself is to thoroughly research the travel agency or tour operator you are considering using,” said Detective Inspector Simon Pope. “It is important to make sure that any agent or tour operator is a member of ABTA and ATOL protected. Make sure that you get everything in writing and never pay by cash or a direct bank transfer to an individual’s account, as it will be almost impossible to recover your money if the transaction turns out to be fraudulent.”
If you have become victim of Hajj fraud please don’t feel embarrassed about coming forward. It is very important that you report the crime to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or at www.actionfraud.police.uk
You can report Hajj Fraud to Wiltshire Police by calling 101.
Alternatively, if you have any information about Hajj Fraud you can contact independent crime-fighting charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or through their Anonymous Online Form at www.crimestoppers-uk.org
No personal details are taken, information cannot be traced or recorded and you will not go to court.
City of London Police have released the following video for the campaign: