Compensation for Hajj fraud victims

Tireless police efforts have finally recovered a mountain of cash conned out of pilgrims by a Tower Hamlets fraudster.

Mohammed Ahmed was jailed for six years at Snaresbrook Crown Court in 2009 for swindling over �500,000 from Muslims planning a once-in-a-lifetime Hajj trip to Mecca, through his Qibla Hajj Kalefa travel agent in Whitechapel’s Old Montague Street.

Despite blowing half the sum on a gambling habit, Ahmed stashed almost �275,000 in Bangladeshi accounts, money it has taken almost two years to get back.

Det Insp Des McHugh, recently awarded for his tenacious efforts leading the case, said: “I just kept pestering the authorities so the issue couldn’t be ignored.

“It required lots of negotiations, including speaking to the Attonrey General of Bangladesh in person, but in some cases it was people’s life savings and I wasn’t going to give up.”

The money is now with the courts and will be shared among the more than 300 victims of the scam that the court has identified.

Unfortunately, any new claimants who come forward will not be eligible for compensation.

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“If I have any regret, it’s that people who didn’t claim before won’t now receive anything, but we had to draw a line somewhere and I’m confident that we got 99 per cent of the victims.”