Rogue Hajj travel agent imprisoned

By on 09/12/2011 in News

A rogue Birmingham travel agent who fraudulently missold a hajj package to a Muslim family was today sent to prison for 15 months at Birmingham Crown Court.

Chowdhury Haffez Ahmad of Hellenic Travels was successful prosecuted by Birmingham City Council's Trading Standards following a complaint by Mohamed Noori.

 In July 2009, Ahmad who is also known as Chowdhury Ahmad Haffez, Chowdhury Hafeez Ahmed and Haffeez Ahmad Chowdhury sold a family hajj package to Mr Noori and his family costing £10,000.

 The package was sold on the basis of a direct flight from Birmingham International Airport to Saudi Arabia and a five star accommodation with either the Hilton or the Dar ul Tagwa in Medina for Mr Noori, his wife and two daughters.

 However, days before the departure, the Noori family's flight arrangements were altered without their prior consent, and where not the direct flights they had paid for. 

 During their pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, the Noori family were not offered many of the facilities they had paid for including the five star accommodations. They ended up paying extra money for food, travel and accommodation.

 Speaking after the verdict, Councillor Neil Eustace, chair of the Public protection Committee, said: “It is a disgrace that  rogue travel agents like Chowdhury Haffez Ahmad prey on vulnerable people at such an important time in their lives and we will do everything we to protect these travellers.

 “There are some unscrupulous tour operators that deliberately target the Muslim community, claiming they specialised in hajj. They often don't have an air tours operators licence and therefore breaking the UK law and not providing legal protection for travellers.”

 Investigations by the Birmingham City Council's Trading Standards found that Ahmad had used both the Air Travel organiser's Licence (ATOL) and International Air Transport Association (IATA) logo's on his paperwork without their consent.

 Investigations also found that Ahmad had never provided information to Mr Noori and his family about the arrangements for security for their money and for their repatriation in the event of insolvency contrary to Reg 7 (2) of the Package Travel, Package Holidays and package Tours Regulations 1992.

 The investigation by Trading Standards further found that Ahmad had failed to provide in writing or other appropriate form the times and places of intermediate stops and particulars of where the Noori family were to stay- a requirement of the Package Travel, Package Holidays and package Tours Regulations 1992.

Ahmad had also failed to give the Noori family information about an insurance policy that they may have wished to take contrary to Reg (2) of the Package Travel, Package Holidays and package Tours Regulations 1992.

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