Barking and Dagenham Muslims warned of Hajj scams ahead of Mecca pilgrimage

Thousands of the borough’s Muslims hoping to make a pilgrimage to Mecca are being warned about possible scams by Barking and Dagenham Council ahead of the annual religious tradition.
The alert comes after changes made by the Saudi government, which means the number of people permitted to attend the event has been restricted with prospective pilgrims having to enter an official online ballot while also meeting certain criteria.
To help people understand the changes, council officers are hosting two information days at mosques across the borough offering advice and guidance on travel and consumer laws, as well as what to look out for when booking packages to avoid being scammed when booking their Hajj.
Hajj is the religious pilgrimage to Mecca and is one of the five pillars of Islam, which every adult Muslim must undertake at least once in their lifetime if they can afford it and are physically able.
As well as the information days, Trading Standards officers will also be liaising with local travel businesses to make sure they understand the changes and comply with the law around consumer rights.
Councillor Syed Ghani, Cabinet Member for Enforcement and Community Safety, said: “In recent years there have been a number of fraud cases in neighbouring London boroughs when it comes to people booking their once in a lifetime trip to Mecca.
“Hopefully by highlighting the new rules and telling them what to look out for, we can reduce the risk of people losing their hard-earned money to scammers. We’ll also be working with local travel agents and tour operators to make sure they understand the changes and help them comply with the law.”
This year marks the return of the religious event, which was been cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to Covid-19.
The information stalls will be held between 12.30pm and 2.30pm on Friday 24 June at Barking’s Al Madina Mosque, Victoria Road and 12.30pm and 2.30pm on Friday 1 July at Dagenham Central Mosque, Green Lane.