Cops probing tour company said to have cheated pilgrims of RM14.2mil

KUALA LUMPUR: Police are investigating 399 reports involving RM14.2mil in losses over allegedly fraudulent umrah packages offered by a tour company.

Federal Commercial Crime Investigation Department (CCID) director Comm Datuk Seri Ramli Mohamed Yoosuf said the reports and losses involved at least 1,614 pilgrims.

"We received 56 reports in Kuala Lumpur followed by Selangor (88),Terengganu (40), Johor (35), Kelantan (34), Melaka (24), Sabah (23), Perak (19), Kedah (18), Pahang (17), Negri Sembilan (17), Penang (16), Sarawak (11) and Perlis (one).

"Based on the reports lodged, 229 were referred to the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry as well as the Consumer Claims Tribunal," he told reporters on Wednesday (Nov 29).

He added that they also recorded statements from two company directors, a married couple in their 40s.

"The company is believed to use Facebook in addition to agents to promote pilgrimage services for between RM5,000 and RM11,000 and the payments are made by the victim to a local bank account.

"Checks found that the company, which has nine branches in several states, was established in 2015 and carries out various business activities including tourism," he said.

He added that as a result of the investigation carried out by the ministry under Section 8(1)(d) of the Tourism Industry Act 1992 (Act 482), the company had been suspended from July 10 to Jan 9 for conducting business in a way that harms the interests of the public, the tourism industry and the national economy.

"In addition, the Companies Commission blacklisted this company and its two directors on Oct 5 under Administrative Sanctions (Functions Commission) using Section 17 of the Malaysian Companies Commission Act 2001," he said.

Comm Ramli said, based on information from the ministry, early this year the government of Saudi Arabia had increased the cost for umrah and haj in the country that covers the cost of accommodation, transportation and meals.

"This makes the cost of the package offered by this company no longer relevant.

"The company held negotiations with the pilgrims who were unable to fly and gave them two options, the first to continue waiting their turn or the second, to get a refund of the money they paid.

"However, it is said that this company failed to keep its promises for either option. Our investigation is ongoing," he added.

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