NOTTINGHAMSHIRE – In an official statement on July 9, Nottinghamshire Police has presented some fraud avoidance advices for British Muslim pilgrims who are heading to Makkah for Hajj next August.
“Within this pilgrimage mass of humanity are thousands of UK citizens, many of whom will have saved for years in the knowledge that, for them, this will be a once-in-a-lifetime trip,” the statement read.
According to the police agency, a significant number of Muslims who have paid for a Hajj tour package for themselves and their family discover that their dreams have been shattered by fraudsters.
To avoid being subjected to such harsh situations the police agency presented a list of recommendations that the British Muslims are advised to follow.
“Don’t book without carrying out some basic checks on your travel agency/ tour operator. A recommendation from a friend or family member doesn’t guarantee the authenticity of the outfit,” this is the police agency’s first remark.
To solve this issue, “go online and run a search on the travel company/flight-based package to see if other people have commented on their services.”
“Make sure your travel company is a member of a recognized trade association such as the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA),” the statement continues.
According to the police agency, “All ABTA members have to follow a code of conduct and meet rigorous entry criteria, minimising the chance of fraudulent companies joining. You can verify a company’s ABTA membership on their website.”
Moreover, in an important remark, “get everything in writing. Always get written terms and conditions as this details your contract with the travel company.” And certainly, make sure your flight details, accommodation and Hajj visa are valid.
Regarding your valuable savings, “Don’t pay the travel company by cash or by direct bank transfer into an individual’s account. Most legitimate companies will have facilities with a bank to accept credit or debit cards. If you do pay by bank transfer or cash and the company turns out to be fraudulent it will be virtually impossible to get your money back.”
The police agency concluded its tips with calling every victim of Hajj fraud to “report this and not to suffer in silence or feel embarrassed.”
You can report the crime by contacting Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or visit Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud and cyber crime reporting centre.