Police detects fraudulent activities related to Haj season

Visitors sit in the Grand Mosque in Mecca ahead of Haj

KUALA LUMPUR – The Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) has recently detected fraudulent activities related to haj, umrah and haj by proxy packages for the 2021 season, which are being offered by several travel agencies.

Bukit Aman Commercial Crime Investigation Department director, Datuk Mohd Kamarudin Md Din, said that offers of such packages were very dubious, as the country was currently hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and the movement control order was being enforced by the government.

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He said the government had previously stated that it was still awaiting approval from the Saudi Arabian authorities on permission to perform the haj pilgrimage, as well as the quota allowed for the 2021 season.

“PDRM sees the action of some travel agencies to advertise haj, umrah or haj by proxy packages for 2021 season as a premature action, and could be a scam.

“This case is being investigated under Section 420 of the Penal Code for cheating,” he said in a statement today.

Kamarudin said if convicted, imprisonment of up to 10 years and whipping or both could be imposed against the offenders.

He also reminded the public to be more careful and to check with the relevant government agencies before deciding to make a payment and join any of the packages offered.

“People who are interested in performing haj and umrah for this year’s season are also reminded to always be aware of the latest developments and instructions issued by the government regarding travel restrictions, to avoid becoming victims of fraud,” he said.

On May 24, it was reported that the government and Lembaga Tabung Haji (TH) were still waiting for an official announcement from the Saudi Arabian government, regarding the total quota of pilgrims, selection criteria and methods of performing haj this time.

On June 4, the TH Board advised prospective Malaysian pilgrims to be patient while waiting for an official announcement on the status of this year’s haj pilgrimage.

Its executive director, Datuk Seri Syed Saleh Syed Abdul Rahman, said that TH would inform all prospective pilgrims on the matter once an official decision was obtained from the Saudi Arabian government.

Be vigilant

TH meanwhile has advised the public to be more vigilant with offers to engage haj by proxy (badal haji) services, which are often promoted on social media by travel agencies and certain individuals.

TH, in a statement issued today, said that the statutory body and its agencies had never been involved in any form of promotion, offering or even the provision of haj by proxy services.

It said that the implementation of the fifth pillar of Islam requires each pilgrim from outside Saudi Arabia to obtain a visa to perform the haj, while locals need to apply for a permit first.

“As of now, the Saudi Arabian government has yet to issue any official announcement regarding the implementation of the haj pilgrimage for this year’s season,” the statement read.

TH also said that, apart from that, the offer of a haj proxy service at a rate below RM2,500 per person was also unreasonable, as the cost of permits and other expenses to be borne by the locals in Saudi Arabia was much higher than this.

“TH is very concerned about cases of fraudulent haj by proxy services that occur every year, and asks the public to ensure that agents or individuals who offer this service have permission to perform haj, and are qualified in terms of knowledge to perform services properly,” it said.