If you think job scams are only prevalent in specific industries, think again. Fake job agents and job scams are alive and thriving in the maritime industry and affecting recent graduates who have spent four long years of hard work becoming educated as maritime professionals. The problem is very common, disheartening and frustrating for young mariners.
Where Are Maritime Job Scams Coming From?
Recently, Marine Insight did some research to determine where these job scams were stemming from. Surprisingly enough, it has been common that the scammed were getting references from online maritime job websites. After a bit more research, it was found that many of the job websites were doing the following:
- Providing online scam companies a platform to post without checking their credibility
- Selling personal details and resumes of candidates
- Not giving descriptions or addresses of the companies posting
- Marketing scam job postings
Additionally, social media sites were homes to these job scams as well with individuals that set up fake profiles or fake contact numbers and addresses. These individuals were usually responsible for the following:
- Posing as agents by providing information about opportunities within shipping companies
- Pretending to be a company representative and posting jobs on their behalf.
- Asking for a large fee in return for job placement without any additional information.
- Promoting an offer for merchant ships, when the job is actually for a small ferry or tug boat.
Even more severe stories include agents sending candidates to foreign countries to join ships but keeping their CDC and other documents to themselves and telling their owners that the documents were misplaced when asked for them. Once the candidate inevitably misses their joining date, they are told the ships have sailed and are returned home. The fees that had been given to fund the trip are ultimately kept and never returned.
Could Ship Management Companies Be to Blame?
With an increase in job instability in this industry, the number of job scam cases are slowly rising. Ship management companies normally have a transparent and professional hiring process when on-boarding new candidates. However, there are companies who may not realize they are doing anything wrong. Companies who have these fake job agents are often engaging in some practices that make them susceptible to scams.
It is common practice for many ship management companies to provide their candidate with a start date about a month or two before they might join the ship. However, as the date approaches they are told it is pushed back sometimes as far as a year. The delays can continue until the candidate becomes frustrated enough to lose trust in the company. They may begin to look for other placement opportunities, such as those from job agents.
Ship management companies allow fleet managers or personnel to post job advertisements online. Personnel could take this opportunity and post under fake names or profiles providing their direct information to receive a large sum of money in return. Additionally, it is clear that many companies do not do background checks on the agents bringing them candidates. Often times these agents will charge additional service charges without informing the company.
Why Are Job Scams Thriving in the Maritime Industry?
Although the financial predicaments of this industry are contributing to these scams, there are many other reasons as to why job scams are prevalent. For example, improper guidance for recent maritime graduates at the start of their career could contribute to the participation of those in job scams. There is an imbalance of demand and supply for mariners which is caused by the increase of recent graduates and declining number of jobs. This frustration can lead individuals to make a quick decision and find themselves in the midst of a scam. Additionally, lack of education and training can contribute to this epidemic. It’s important to focus on quality instead of quantity.
While jobs may be somewhat scarce in the industry, legitimate shipping companies are constantly looking for qualified and experienced maritime professionals for higher ranks on their ships. It is becoming a growing trend with management level mariners who are finding better opportunities on shore. Until action is taken by the government to find a solution to these issues, job scams and fake companies will continue to weed their way into the industry and take advantage of vulnerable maritime professionals.