ITIC puts ship agents on alert over immigration crew scams

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ITIC has warned its members about a recent spate of crew scams which threaten to involve unwary ship agents in significant financial loss and exposure to fines and penalties by immigration authorities.

ITIC has issued a number of warnings in the past about ship agents being used by unscrupulous migrant smugglers to move illegal immigrants around the world. The basic pattern is for owners and managers to ask the agent to attend a vessel’s call at a port, and to provide assistance with regard to crew changes. Although the approach is bogus, the agent provides cover for the arrival of the migrants in the country where the ship docks.

The migrants will subsequently disappear and the agent will be left with unpaid hotel bills, as well as the prospect of being asked to pay fines imposed by immigration authorities. In addition, agents may be liable for detention and repatriation costs if the migrants are apprehended.

In a circular to members, ITIC notes that it has recently seen a re-emergence of these immigration crew scams. It reminds all agents to be particularly vigilant when approached by owners or crew managers unknown to them who are requesting a crew change.