Seafarers and scammers. Don’t be a victim.

Published: 25/06/2021

We have become aware that seafarers who are legitimately searching for work are being targeted by scammers.  

These unscrupulous individuals frequently pose as recruitment agents or HR managers, often pretending to be from well-known, reputable companies. They have one thing in mind; to extract large sums of money from seafarers by promising a job and asking for advance payments for things like visas, insurance and taxes. The reality is that the job does not exist and you will never hear from them – or see your money – again. 

If the job seems too good to be true, it probably is! Real job offers from genuine recruiters will not ask you to hand over money – the law does not allow them to do so.  

Scammers will frequently contact seafarers via email and LinkedIn, offering highly paid but fictitious roles.  As a responsible flag, we are keen to ensure that all seafarers do not fall victim to false promises. 

We regularly receive reports of actual and attempted occurrencies of seafarers being scammed. Earlier this year, a ‘crew recruitment manager’ contacted a seafarer and promised them a job with a very high salary as a senior engineer. Before being provided with the ‘contract’, they were asked to pay £585 for insurance which increased to a further £985 after the first payment was made.  

They were also told that the money had to be transferred quickly. The scammer made repeated, high pressure calls to the seafarer who reported them to us: 

They said they were asked to: “Take a loan from the bank, borrow from friends and immediately send it (the money) to an account within a day. I said that I would take it to the pawnshop and pawn the gold that was left from my mother and maybe somehow get 500 pounds,” they told us. . 

“I then politely asked for a refund of my 585 Pounds or 775 Euros. To which the answer was that it was impossible.... I am shocked by everything that is happening,”  

As the UK Ship Register, we are not involved in any form of recruitment and cannot advise of job offers or advertised positions from a private company. But we have put together a list of the warning signs to look out for, to help show seafarers how they can protect themselves from fraud. 

What are the red flags?  

The warning signs and what to do:  

  • If it sounds too good to be true, with a larger salary than you would expect, it probably is; Trust your instincts. 
  • Beware of poor spelling, grammar, and over enthusiastic praise. Legitimate correspondence will usually be concise and free of mistakes such as spelling and grammatical errors. If you’re unsure, ask a family member or friend or your trade union to check.  
  • Any legitimate seafaring job offer will not ask you to pay money up front, fund your own visa or pay for costs associated with your own repatriation. Any such costs are the shipowner’s responsibility as outlined in the MLC 2006.  
  • Legitimate employers and agencies provide you with a Seafarers Employment Agreement (SEA) and allow time for you to read, understand and take advice on what is included.  

Please use the below link for more information about what a legitimate SEA will include:  

  • Check the company’s website and that the email formats match. 
  • If you are unsure about the correspondence, please contact a company directly if you are in any way unsure. 
  • Do not hand over any money on the promise of a job. 

If you are suspicious, report it to Action Fraud. Action Fraud is the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime, where you should report fraud attempts and any cases of being scammed, defrauded or experiencing cybercrime in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and 

And in Scotland: