Trusted Alim sentenced for ripping off pilgrims
An Alim turned tour operator has been found guilty of consumer protection from unfair trading regulations after he took money totalling approximately, £117, 500 from vulnerable and elderly pilgrims to journey to Mecca where their all inclusive package fell short of the four star treatment promised to them.
Qari Mohammed Nawaz, aged 59 of Hazelmere Road, Slough, took approximately, £2,500 each from 47 people after promoting his Hajj Pilgrimage Package at the Diamond Road mosque. He promised them a trip of a lifetime with four star hotels, air-conditioned transport, direct flights and an English speaking tour guide.
However, unable to obtain the visas needed to get into Saudi Arabia, Qari Nawaz outsourced the trip to another tour operator, Hijaz Travel in Ilford, at a cost of £2,100 per person.
Qari Nawaz then called the pilgrims the night before travelling to Saudi Arabia to tell them to pack their bags and be at Heathrow early the following morning.
When they got to the airport, they found their flight was not direct, but stopped for several hours in Istanbul. Unlike the Hijaz Travel pilgrims, the 47 passengers were left without food or water while waiting for their connecting flight.
When they eventually arrived to start their pilgrimage, they found their accommodation to have many beds in one room, some with less than an inch between them, cockroaches and no tour guide. Qari Nawaz, who had also made the trip with his son, was no where to be seen.
Qari Nawaz was found guilty of 11 offences:
• eight under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008
• three offences under the Package Travel, Package Holidays, and Package Tours Regulations 1992.
The judge passed sentence that he must not serve as a company director or secretary or be the controlling mind of the body of a company for five years.
He must repay by way of compensating £500 to each of the complainants that paid full price for the trip, as well as pay costs of £8,000 to Slough Borough Council towards the case.
He must pay this amount to the court by the end of June.
Angela Satterly, senior technical enforcement officer for Slough Borough Council, said: “This was a terrible case where people, who trusted someone in a position of authority and status, were completely ripped off. Many of those who went to make the once in a lifetime trip were elderly and vulnerable, but were treated appallingly.
“We are very pleased with this outcome and hope it sends out a strong message that this type of behaviour will not be tolerated.”
Commissioner for health and wellbeing, Cllr James Walsh, added: “It never ceases to amaze me how some people will go to any length to make a gain from others. Nawaz was in a position of complete trust and knew it.
“Those who took the pilgrimage were treated appallingly, especially after all the money they had spent and the promises they were given. I am very pleased that some of those who took the trip felt confident enough to come forward and complain to trading standards.”
For more information, please contact Samantha Daynes on 01753 875026.