Reuters - Video

EDITION: U.S. | U.K. | IN

Business

Pilgrims' Haj dreams shattered by scams

Thursday, October 10, 2013 - 02:02

Oct. 11 - Tens of thousands of British Muslims are believed to have been victims of a scam which has shattered their dreams of a once-in-a lifetime religious pilgramage to Mecca. Hayley Platt reports.

▲ Hide Transcript

View Transcript

It's a journey that every Muslim must take at least once in their life, if they're physically able, and can afford it. Millions will soon make the pilgrimage to Mecca for Haj, including around 25,000 from Britain. But thousands are thought to have had their dreams shattered after being sold fake travel packages. Detective Inspector Craig Mullish has been investigating. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CITY OF LONDON POLICE, DETECTIVE INSPECTOR CRAIG MULLISH, SAYING: "The areas we've identified are Muslim members of the community paying cash for packages such as flights, visa, accommodation with... there's no paperwork, and the packages are said to be delivered by way of tickets very shortly before the pilgrimage to Haj. So people arrive in airports with no flight, or they arrive in Saudi Arabia with no accommodation." Only 44 Haj related fraud reports have been filed this year - but police believe the actual figure could be in the tens of thousands, with many not speaking out due to embarrassment. But Mohsin Tutla from the Council of British Hajiis says it's not just about the financial loss, which averages between 3 and £3,500 per person. (SOUNDBITE) (English) MEMBER OF COUNCIL OF BRITISH HAJIIS, MOHSIN TUTLA, SAYING: "It's the fact that a lot of pilgrims have prepared for it, and if they don't have the opportunity to go or it's been taken away from them, they feel like they've been rejected, rejected by God. Because it's all often spoken that Haj is an invitation, it's a calling from God and you're privileged to be here and you should value that. So when that opportunity is taken away from them, people feel rejected, and that's extremely disheartening for any person." The annual gathering has become a lucrative business - with British muslims alone spending around £125 million a year on Haj. Not much is known about who is doing the scamming, according to Gillian Edwards from the Association of British Travel Agents. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ABTA (ASSOCIATION OF BRITISH TRAVEL AGENTS SENIOR PR MANAGER, GILLIAN EDWARDS, SAYING: "They tend to set up very quickly, maybe like just a few months before the Haj booking season, and then they disappear very quickly by the time haj comes around. And one of the issues is that very few people actually report haj fraud. It's probably about one of 10 cases that actually get reported." Police are working across the UK to combat the crime. And despite the spiritual nature of the product, it's still a case of buyer beware.

Press CTRL+C (Windows), CMD+C (Mac), or long-press the URL below on your mobile device to copy the code

Pilgrims' Haj dreams shattered by scams

Thursday, October 10, 2013 - 02:02

Top News »

Investing 201 »

Arian Foster = BlackBerry? Arian Foster = BlackBerry?

Fri, Oct 25, 2013 - (3:16)

Don’t miss these red flags for IPOs Don’t miss these red flags for IPOs

Thu, Oct 10, 2013 - (2:34)

Copycat currency trading Copycat currency trading

Wed, Oct 02, 2013 - (2:28)

When to dump a winner When to dump a winner

Tue, Sep 24, 2013 - (1:55)

Where gold might again attract Jim Rogers Where gold might again attract Jim Rogers

Thu, Sep 19, 2013 - (2:05)

Why savings interest rates won't budge Why savings interest rates won't budge

Fri, Sep 13, 2013 - (2:09)

Buy local? ETFs try the trend Buy local? ETFs try the trend

Thu, Sep 05, 2013 - (2:42)

The better bond funds The better bond funds

Wed, Aug 07, 2013 - (2:40)

Best bargain in 40 years? European stocks Best bargain in 40 years? European stocks

Thu, Aug 01, 2013 - (2:24)

Invest like an activist Invest like an activist

Fri, Jul 26, 2013 - (2:49)

Money Clip »

3 things to do before disaster strikes 3 things to do before disaster strikes

Wed, Sep 18, 2013 - (1:39)

Your must-do money list Your must-do money list

Wed, Sep 11, 2013 - (1:24)

The worst "best" financial advice The worst "best" financial advice

Wed, Sep 04, 2013 - (1:42)

Forget gold: The case for REITs Forget gold: The case for REITs

Fri, Apr 26, 2013 - (1:19)

3 rules for buying a house now 3 rules for buying a house now

Thu, Apr 18, 2013 - (1:39)

“Stalking” your dream home - Money Clip “Stalking” your dream home - Money Clip

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 - (2:50)

3 hidden tax deductions - Money Clip 3 hidden tax deductions - Money Clip

Thu, Mar 21, 2013 - (1:33)

Moving Pictures »

Images of September Images of September

Wed, Oct 01, 2014 - (1:00)

Still missing – MH370 Still missing – MH370

Fri, Sep 05, 2014 - (2:05)

Burning Together Burning Together

Mon, Sep 01, 2014 - (2:23)

Mending dolls, teddies and hearts Mending dolls, teddies and hearts

Fri, Aug 22, 2014 - (3:12)

Images of August Images of August

Fri, Aug 29, 2014 - (1:00)

"Old timers" sail the Chesapeake Bay "Old timers" sail the Chesapeake Bay

Mon, Aug 11, 2014 - (2:27)

Burned memories Burned memories

Fri, Aug 08, 2014 - (3:02)

Images of July Images of July

Thu, Jul 31, 2014 - (1:20)

World Cup: passion on the pitch World Cup: passion on the pitch

Fri, Jul 11, 2014 - (1:00)

A refugee in America gives back A refugee in America gives back

Thu, Jul 03, 2014 - (3:25)

Reuters Investigates »

Re-homing victim: "I could have been dead" Re-homing victim: "I could have been dead"

Wed, Feb 19, 2014 - (8:24)

Cops and loggers in the Amazon rainforest Cops and loggers in the Amazon rainforest

Fri, Jan 10, 2014 - (4:01)

"Passed around like a dog" "Passed around like a dog"

Thu, Aug 29, 2013 - (6:32)

Adopted, then abandoned online Adopted, then abandoned online

Thu, Aug 29, 2013 - (13:21)

How the DEA keeps its secrets secret How the DEA keeps its secrets secret

Mon, Aug 05, 2013 - (1:36)

How education lost its role as the great equalizer - Reuters Investigates How education lost its role as the great...

Mon, Dec 17, 2012 - (7:52)

Jihad Jane: From abused child to American jihadist - Reuters Investigates Jihad Jane: From abused child to American...

Sat, Dec 08, 2012 - (10:01)

Jihad Jane: The order to kill - Reuters Investigates Jihad Jane: The order to kill - Reuters...

Sun, Dec 09, 2012 - (10:39)