Almost 200 Muslim families' "dreams have been shattered" after visas for their once-in-a-lifetime Hajj religious pilgrimage trips never arrived.
The families, mainly from north-west England, paid up to £5,000 per person to travel to Mecca before problems with visa numbers emerged.
Agents involved in organising travel packages dispute who is to blame and they are trying to refund customers. The families affected spent a total of almost £1m.
During a meeting in Manchester on Monday, trip regulator the Council of British Hajjis, urged victims to contact police.
Many families had booked through two Greater Manchester travel agents - Ashton Travel on Oldham Road, Ashton-under-Lyne, and City Travel on Dickenson Road, Manchester.
Humayun Khalid said Ashton Travel repeatedly promised him two visas would arrive in time for a flight on 5 October.
Mr Khalid, who paid more than £6,000 for the trips, said: "It not just about money, it's about everything. We were emotionally ready."
Babar Hussain, from Ashton Travel, said he was "absolutely devastated" and "totally embarrassed". He claimed there was no indication there was a problem with the visas until they went to collect them from another agent, Travel Star, and was told there were "no visas".
Mr Hussain apologised to customers, saying: "We are trying our level best because we have already asked for a refund of the tickets and we are taking professional advice and all the legal advice to indemnify losses." BBC News