An update on crew scams
THE CLUB first issued a circular as long ago as 1989 on the subject of ship agents being used by unscrupulous migrant smugglers to move illegal immigrants around the world. The Club continues to receive notfications from Members who have become victims of this crime and has seen many variations on the theme.
A recent example was the case that involved a ship called the “PROFESSOR BOGOROV”. This is a genuine ship but in this case the owners were not involved. A European ship agent was appointed by a party claiming to represent the Academy of Sciences in Sevastopol, Ukraine to meet seven crew members at a local airport and then transport them directly to a hotel to await the arrival of the research ship “PROFESSOR BOGOROV”. Unfortunately, the agent only contacted ITIC after the seven individuals had checked themselves out of their hotel and disappeared. The Club compared the fax and e-mail details with their database of operators of fraudulent crew changes. These had not been used in an earlier scam. ITIC then sent a message to its correspondent in the Ukraine in an effort to try and obtain information about the Academy of Sciences in Sevastopol. It was discovered that the individual purporting to represent the Academy of Sciences there was unknown to that institution. The Academy also had no involvement in the research vessel the “PROFESSSOR BOGOROV”, which in any case was operating on the other side of the world. The agent was left to pay the hotel expenses and a fine from the immigration authority. These were covered by the Club.
The Managers of ITIC have created a database containing details of the numerous crewscams notified over the years and therefore have good records of the ships and people involved.
We have had a number of successes in preventing this type of scam. For example a company based in Athens contacted Members based in Djibouti, requesting their services for 50 - 70 fishermen joining a fish factory ship. The Member was suspicious and asked the Managers for their views. We duly checked records and found that the telephone numbers given were not Greek numbers and that the company did not exist. The Members declined the agency.