hajj mosque
Mudassir Shaheen allegedly took payments for trips to Mecca without ever providing tickets (Reuters)

Manchester police have charged a man with money laundering after Muslim families allegedly paid him up to £3,000 to organise pilgrimages to Mecca for Hajj only for tickets to never arrive.

Mudassir Shaheen, 37, of Green Lane, Bolton, is charged with eleven counts of money laundering and will appear before Bolton Magistrates' Court on 3 March, 2015.

In 2014, Greater Manchester Police's Fraud Investigation Team launched an investigation into eleven complaints that Muslim families across the UK had bought Hajj package holidays from a TV channel.

However, despite each family paying up to £3,000 each for the holidays which included a pilgrimage to Mecca, none of the victims ever received any tickets, nor any refunds.

Muslims who are physically and financially able must make a pilgrimage to Mecca, in Saudi Arabia, at least once in their lifetime.

Hajj itself is the fifth and final pillar of Islam and is the pilgrimage to Mecca. It takes place in the twelfth month of the Islamic calendar.

In 2014 more than two million Muslims made the trip to pray around the holy Kaaba at the Grand Mosque.