A scam whereby ship agents are being used by people-smugglers to cover the movement of illegal migrants is re-emerging, the International Transport Intermediaries Club (ITIC) informed.
The basic pattern of the scam is for owners or managers to ask an agent to attend a vessel’s call, and to provide assistance with crew changes. Usually the owner or manager will be previously unknown to the agent.
“The approach is a sham, but the agent’s involvement will provide cover for the migrants’ arrival in the country,” ITIC said.
The migrants will then promptly disappear, and the agent will be left with unpaid hotel bills and may face fines from immigration authorities as well as being liable for detention and repatriation costs if the migrants are caught.
ITIC has reminded all agents worldwide “to be vigilant when being approached to do crew changes by owners or crew managers who are unknown to them.”