Schemes to smuggle illegal migrants aboard ships were re-merging globally, according to professional indemnity insurer for transporters, the International Transport Intermediaries Club (ITIC).
ITIC warned ship agents that they could be exploited by people-smugglers to conceal the movement of illegal migrants. The basic pattern of the scam was for owners or managers to ask an agent to attend a vessel’s call to provide assistance with crew changes. Usually the owner or manager concerned will be new to the agent.
The agent’s involvement then provides cover for the migrants’ arrival in the country. The migrants then vanish, leaving the agent with unpaid hotel bills and possible fines from immigration authorities. If the migrants are caught, the agents become liable for detention and repatriation costs, the owner or manager having disappeared.
ITIC reminded agents worldwide to be vigilant when approached by owners or crew managers who are unknown to them to undertake crew changes.