Saudi Arabia

Saudi: 11 Expats Nabbed Over Hajj Fraud Amid Clampdown

Saudi police have arrested 11 expatriates involved in a swindle by promoting false Hajj pilgrimage tours, the latest in a series of such arrests as the kingdom prepares for the annual pilgrimage season.

Among those arrested were four Pakistanis and a Myanmar national, caught touting fake Hajj campaigns and selling spurious pilgrimage permits in Mecca.

Authorities found unspecified sums of money, seals, cellphones, and computers in their possession.
Additionally, an Egyptian resident was arrested for defrauding others by promoting a fake Hajj campaign and selling false bracelets worn by pilgrims during their holy journey.

Furthermore, five expatriates, including an Indonesian visitor, were arrested on similar charges. They were found with unspecified sums of money, seals, cellphones, computers, and printers.

Saudi authorities have intensified their crackdown on irregular pilgrims, announcing that they have apprehended thousands of foreign visitors attempting to perform the Hajj without an official permit.

They have repeatedly emphasized that a visit visa does not qualify its holder to perform the Hajj and have warned against fraudsters promoting bogus Hajj tours.

A security official reported that Saudi forces have uncovered 140 fake Hajj campaigns and detained 64 transporters who violated Hajj regulations.

Chief of Public Security and head of the Hajj Security Committee, Lt. Gen. Mohammed Al Bassami, stated that 97,664 unauthorized vehicles and 171,587 people who are not residents of Mecca have been turned back and denied access to the city.

The Saudi Ministry of Interior has vowed stringent penalties against violators of Hajj rules within certain areas, including Mecca, the Central Area, and sacred places during the period of June 2-20.

Violators of Hajj regulations, whether citizens, foreign residents, or visitors without a Hajj permit, are subject to a fine of SR10,000.

Expatriate violators will also be deported and barred from re-entry into the kingdom, with the fine doubling for repeat offenses.
Anyone caught transporting violators of Hajj-related instructions or illegal pilgrims faces up to six months in jail and a maximum fine of SR50,000.


Gulf News

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