Cheat skipped with £600,000—leaving pilgrims stranded
PUBLISHED: 22:03 04 June 2009 | UPDATED: 14:25 05 October 2010
A MAN who carried out a £600,000 Hajj pilgrimage fraud against hundreds of Muslim pilgrims appeared in court today (Thursday). Mohammed Ahmed, 41, admitted a string of fraud and money laundering at his East End travel business
A CHEAT who carried out a £600,000 Hajj pilgrimage fraud against hundreds of Muslim pilgrims appeared in court today (Thursday).
Gambler Mohammed Ahmed, 41, admitted a string of fraud and money laundering offences at his East End travel business when he appeared at Snaresbrook crown court. He is due for sentence next month.
Police were first alerted to Ahmed after pilgrims from the Bangladeshi community handing him large sums of money to arrange travel packages to last year’s Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca.
Ahmed had been operating under the trade name of Quibla Hajj Kafela Services’ and had been accepting cash and passports from hundreds of unsuspecting clients.
But he vanished shortly before the trip was due to take place, leaving clients desperate to reclaim their passports and make alternative arrangements for their pilgrimage.
A raid at Ahmed’s business in Old Montague Street, Spitalfields, revealed 300 passports and paperwork that showed £600,000 had been taken in pilgrimage fees.
Detectives discovered much of the money had already been gambled at casinos and bookmakers.
Ahmed had fled days earlier to Bangladesh, but was eventually arrested at Gatwick airport.
Det Ins Des McHugh said: “Ahmed shamelessly defrauded hundreds of innocent victims who had planned the most significant trip of their lives.
“Many lost their entire life savings—but still managed to retain their dignity and supply significant evidence to our investigation team.”
Ahmed “had no choice but plead guilty” with the mountain of evidence against him, the detective added.
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