A scammer is trying to con seafarers by posing as a recruitment officer working for top shipping firms
Dozens of Russian and Ukrainian seafarers have been duped by a bogus recruitment agency fraudulently claiming to represent some of the leading London Greek shipowners, according to a story in Tradewinds.
NS Lemos, Lomar, AM Nomikos and other leading companies have unwittingly found themselves at the centre of the scam, which is seeking to extort money from seafarers in return for jobs that do not exist.
The fraud is now part of a police investigation after the shipping firms became so concerned they alerted the authorities.
E-mails shown to TradeWinds indicate the fraudster — claiming to be a company recruitment officer — is e-mailing individual seafarers, located mostly in Ukraine or Russia, offering them the chance to apply for positions at sea. The positions have unrealistically high remuneration and attractive working conditions. Job advertisements have also been traced back to four Eastern European websites now being investigated by TradeWinds.
The vacancies are given some apparent authenticity by detailed information that has been downloaded from company websites and copied into the e-mail.
A detailed questionnaire is also attached to examine the applicants’ suitability but also includes some oddly inappropriate questions such as “How were you disciplined as a child?”
In one example seen by TradeWinds, the position of “motorman” is offered to a Russian seafarer at the rate of £4,550 ($6,935) per month. The package of benefits includes all-expenses-paid holidays in the UK.
The e-mails have most commonly been sent by a man calling himself Jeremy Summers but he is also thought to operate under a number of false names including Gary Murray, Andrew Berry, Richard Mills and Wayne Johnston.
The same man has even appeared in the guise of a recruitment officer on the LinkedIn page of one of the shipping companies.
London-based Greek shipping companies have been inundated with enquiries from seafarers asking if the vacancies are genuine and revealing they have been asked for money in advance to secure positions. But in some cases the enquiries come too late. “You can tell by the tone of their voices that they have already paid money,” one of the companies dragged into the scam told TradeWinds.
The fraud has been running for some time, often going quiet for months on end only to re-emerge at a later date. In response to the latest spate of activity, many of the shipping companies have been forced to issue warnings.
A spokesman for NS Lemos says it has seen a reduced number of enquiries since it acted to expose the fraud on its website. It advised seafarers: “You are kindly requested to ignore any communications relating to this matter whilst the relevant law-enforcement agencies investigate.”
A spokesman for Lomar said: “We can confirm the Lomar Shipping identity has been falsely used to target individuals and ask them for money. We have made reports to the police and have encouraged individuals targeted to do the same. We continue to be vigilant and work with all authorities concerned to address these matters.”
In common with other London Greek firms, Lomar hires through third-party crewing and employment agencies.
Other companies were still dealing with enquiries from concerned seafarers this week.
The problem of bogus recruitment agencies has long troubled the shipping industry but has been mainly focused on the cruise industry.
The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) has been offering advice to its members on how to tackle the con men. It advises: “If it sounds too good to be true then it probably is. Requesting advance payments for work on ships is prohibited under international maritime conventions, so you should not be asked for one.
“Above all remember that you shouldn’t 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.”
For more information see Tradewinds