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Hajj pilgrims warned to be on lookout for unholy rip-offs

PUBLISHED: 17:34 29 July 2009 | UPDATED: 14:38 05 October 2010

POLICE and trading standards officials are warning anyone planning to go on the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca to be on their guard against scams and rip-offs. Leaflets with advice in English and Bengali are being distributed in London’s East End, with its large Muslim population, for those planning the trip

Mike Brooke

POLICE and trading standards officials are warning anyone planning to go on the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca to be on their guard against scams and rip-offs.

Leaflets with advice in English and Bengali are being distributed in London’s East End, with its large Muslim population, for those planning the trip in December.

It is the latest campaign by Tower Hamlets trading standards office to make sure people are not getting ripped off by unscrupulous operators cashing in on religious devotion.

VISAS

“Some operators are out to make money and do not come up with what they have promised,” said council cabinet member Abdal Ullah.

“We hear stories of people paying for expensive accommodation, but getting a tiny room far from the centre of Mecca, and visas and flight tickets not arriving.

“In extreme cases, agents disappearing with their money.”

FRAUDSTER

It follows a case at the Old Bailey earlier this month when 41-year-old fraudster Mohammed Ahmed was jailed after he skipped the country with £600,000, leaving hundreds of pilgrims stranded.

Trading Standards are advising would-be pilgrims to check that the travel company they book with is a member of a trade organisation such as ABTA, the Association of British Travel Agents, and to keep all documents such as contracts and invoices in case of later problems.

The leaflets are being handed out over the next two weeks, at Al Huda Mosque in Mile End on Friday, at the Stepney Shahjalal Mosque next Friday (August 7) and at the Brick Lane Jamia Mosque the Friday after that(August 14).


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