Saudi authorities arrest 19 over 'fraudulent' offers to perform Hajj for others

Illegal online adverts offered to secure and distribute Eid Al Adha sacrifices

Muslims bound for Makkah to perform the Hajj pilgrimage arrive in Ahmedabad. AFP
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Nineteen people were arrested in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday for allegedly offering fraudulent services involving Hajj being performed on behalf of others.

Brig Gen Sami Al Shuwairekh of the Saudi Public Security Department said that of those arrested, three were in breach of border security regulations and four Yemenis were detained for breaching the residence system. Among the others facing charges are three residents of Pakistani nationality, a resident with Myanmar citizenship, and two Saudi citizens. All are being held for allegedly posting illegal advertisements on social networks and a website about performing Hajj on behalf of others.

The adverts included the offer to secure and distribute sacrifices for pilgrims unable to make the Hajj pilgrimage this year, and an offer of transport services secured through fake institutions.

Legal measures were taken against the 19, and they were referred to the Public Prosecution, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

Hajj fraud is prevalent throughout the world because booking a trip to perform the pilgrimage cannot be done without the aid of local offices designated by the Saudi authorities.

Traditionally, each country had more than one designated service provider through the countries’ respective Hajj authorities.

But an electronic registration platform introduced by the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah this year, called Motawif, requires people from Europe, America and Australia to register for this year’s Hajj electronically at www.motawif.com.sa.

The new portal is part of the ministry’s efforts to facilitate Hajj procedures and provide competitive prices for European, American and Australian pilgrims.

The platform offers a range of flight and accommodation packages — platinum, gold or silver.

A person can perform Hajj on behalf of someone who is suffering from a terminal illness or is too old to travel, or someone who has died without having had the chance to go on the pilgrimage.

A person who is performing Hajj on behalf of someone else must first have performed Hajj themself.

Updated: July 06, 2022, 11:22 AM
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