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Recruitment scams

REMEMBER THE GOLDEN RULE - if the job looks to good to be true, it almost certainly is

Most scams depend on the offer of jobs that require little or no qualifications or training, but which pay high wages, attract large tips or provide terms and conditions above the norm.

The main type involves a promise of work in return for a bribe or payment. This may be disguised as:

  • an agency fee
  • a registration fee
  • an administration fee
  • a payment for a medical examination
  • for visa processing
  • for passport processing
  • an immigration fee

And these are usually asked for once you have provided a copy of your passport and other personal documents, and just before the job offer is made.

It may be made to look like something you have to pay a government department, clinic or bank, or you may be asked for money for airfares to join a ship with a promise you will get the money back when you arrive. YOU WILL NOT

Other frauds include:

  • Payment of money direct to a local bank so you can join a cargo ship
  • Payment to have your job application or CV circulated to prospective employers, often with a guarantee that if you don’t get a job, you’ll get your money back. You can usually be sure you will not get either
  • Websites that invite you to post your CV or resume for free. Your personal details can be used for identity fraud, especially if you are then approached by someone pretending to be an employer who asks you to send your passport and seafarers’ certificate
  • Unsolicited (unexpected) job offers that arrive by e-mail or through social media/messaging

How do they get away with it?

By using fake but believable websites, high quality photographs of seafarers and vessels, newspaper adverts and fictitious addresses in countries such as the UK, these scammers look legitimate.

Who should I avoid?

You should avoid Facebook and anyone who contacts you with the offer of a job that you were not expecting.  There are a great number of individuals posing as recruitment agents and HR consultants for cruise and cargo vessels. The reality is that the major cruise lines and cargo companies do not use Facebook to recruit seafarers.

Our Scam Alerts page has the names of individuals and companies to avoid, as well as fake email addresses and websites you should stay clear of.  This page cannot show every active scam but we update it regularly.

How do I know who to trust?

At first, you will not. You cannot trust glossy websites or newspaper ads. What you can trust is the simple fact that if it looks too good to be true it usually is. REMEMBER, requesting advance payment for work on vessels is prohibited under the Maritime Labour Convention 2006, (MLC),

If you’re told you need to pay airfares or registration fees, ask yourself why the people who are offering these well-paid jobs can’t find that money themselves. Look out too for the use of box numbers and false addresses and take time to Google the company name and ‘scam’, ‘fraud’ or ‘warning’. If nothing turns up but you are unsure that the company is legitimate you can approach the ITF for advice. 

Above all, remember that you should not have to pay for work at sea and that if anything about a job looks wrong or looks like what you’ve read here you should stay well away from it.


If you identify a scam, a fake email address being used in a scam, a fake website or you simply want our advice please contact us via email at

We will treat all emails in complete confidence and will NOT pass on your name or details to anyone