Current fake agent chaos in shipping: Who is to blame?

The maritime industry has been one of the most isolated industries for a long time. However, in the last few years it was noticed that there is a huge gap between the demand and supply of shipping agents this resulted in many maritime institutes and shipping agents all across the world, and the point of concern is that many of these agents are actually fake. We in this article will try to discuss how we can actually differentiate between a fake and a real shipping agent. These fake institutes claim that they can train the candidates and prepare them for a future in shipping which is not true and must not be trusted. In this article we will discuss why these agents are mushrooming and how we can be cautious about distinguishing between the fake and the true shipping companies.

Main Reasons

The main reason for these fake shipping agents rising is the fact that about ten years back it was noticed that there is a huge need for professionals in the shipping industry but there were not many institutes with the ability to provide for these professionals. Many young people realized that shipping was a lucrative profession to be in and they wanted to get hold of agents who could train them and prepare them for a bright future in the shipping industry. Many unethical institutes were established and they started to train young people telling them that they are being prepared for a career in shipping. Large sum of money was charged from these candidates. Many innocent students lost a lot of money in this process and had to suffer severe damages.

Current Scenario

Today there are a number of fake shipping agents who just want to fool people of their money and are nothing but fraudsters. That is why any student who wants to join a shipping company today would prefer to do a proper background check of the shipping agent that they are choosing. Although precautions are taken by the students but the fact remains that even today there are a lot of fake shipping companies that are doing these frauds and the shipping authorities are actually not taking any solid steps to ensure that these frauds and scams are stopped a result there is not much reduction in the number of the fake shipping agents.

Although all maritime professionals are at risk of fraud, we have specifically mentioned about students and new candidates since they are most potential targets as they do not have much experience of exposure to the tactics of fraudsters as compared to “old rice”.

Many candidates in the past have been a victim of these scams and many are victimised even today. If the authorities are not taking any strong steps then the students themselves will have to ensure that they take enough care before they join a shipping company so that they do not get cheated. The aim of this article is to help the students who are aspiring to make a career in shipping to take a well informed decision.

Let’s first make a check list for the maritime institutes. These points will help you to ensure that you do not get involved with an institute that is only there to make some quick money by fooling people.

  1. The first thing you must look for is that the institute has actually obtained all the approvals from the shipping authority of the country to which the institute belongs to. Every country will have their shipping authorities. In India this job is done by IMU and DG shipping. You can find the details of the institutes approved by them in their website itself. In India if you want to apply for higher management studies then the AICTE approval is a must. Similarly other countries will also have a list of such institutes. A detailed study is a must before you trust these institutes as a lot of these are fake and there is no denial.
  1. It is also possible that there are some maritime institutes that are approved by some foreign bodies even these must be studied well. Even in India there are some maritime institutes that are actually approved by the UK maritime authority. These institutes are actually authorised by UK maritime authority to certify the candidates. You must send a mail to the accrediting body and ask them for an approval to ensure that the institute is a genuine one.
  1. The shipping authority will always issue an eligibility requirement for any institute that wants to be a part of it. The eligibility requirement will include some physical, medical and technical requirements. Do compare as this will help you to understand if the institute was created just to make money or it has some real interests in helping students. Another point to be noted is that mostly the fake institutes will have requirements that are more lenient compared to the institutes that are serious and want to actually help the students.
  1. The reputation of the founder of the institute is also equally important. If the person who started the institute does not have a good reputation then the institute should not be trusted at all. No matter what promises are being made?
  1. A deep study of the institute is a must. We know this may take a lot of time but as the reliability of the institutes is not much the only way you can deal with this uncertainty is by a detailed study. There is no harm in getting in touch with the current students studying in the institute. You can also check the placement records to be sure that the maritime institute is a genuine one.
  1. There are many institutes who are new into the business. Try to stay away from these as you never know if they are genuine. Similarly you must watch out for institutes that are not providing clear approval documents. One very important point is that if during your research at any point of time you feel that the maritime institute is not a genuine one does complain about it to the shipping authority. This will ensure that no students fall prey to these institutes in the future.

We will now quickly discuss about the points that a students must consider before choosing a shipping agent:

  1. The shipping companies are nothing but the ship manning companies and agents. Even in this field there are a lot of scamps and frauds as a result the shipping authorities set an approval process so that no fake shipping companies can fool the public. There have been many cases filed in the past against these fake shipping companies across the world who try to fool people and look for the money. In India the shipping authorities have set up RPSL (Recruitment placement services license). This gives guidelines that have to be followed to approve a shipping company. Although these precautions have been taken still there are many such fake shipping companies that take money from people promising them of jobs and trainings and then all of a sudden they just vanish away.
  2. Any shipping company must have a valid RPS license else they cannot get anyone a proper job. You will get the details of the approval easily in the website of the shipping authority. This is the first and the most important check that must be done before going ahead with a shipping company.
  3. There have been cases in which the shipping company claimed that their license is under renewal. This can be an alarm. The shipping authority does not take more than 4 days to renew the license. If you are told about renewal choose to wait for a few days and then take the decision. This is a common reason that many fake shipping companies give for hiding their true intentions.
  4. Another important point that we have to mention here is that a genuine and professional shipping company will always have an official email id. If they are deliberately using a personal email id then there are high chances that something is definitely wrong and you must try to get more careful while dealing with such shipping companies. They will be sharing official matter with you so it is quite obvious that they will have to use the official id for communication. The shipping companies must have an official website. This is a basic requirement and you must not miss this point.
  5. The RPS license is a must and is the best check that you can do in order to investigate the authenticity of the shipping company. The email id and website can be created and this does not cost a lot of money. A fake shipping company can easily get these done in order to fool the candidates and make more money. However, getting a fake license and approval is a lot more difficult. The DG of shipping clearly mentions that a candidate cannot be charged for on board training by the agency. That is why if you are asked to pay for the on board training there must be something wrong. The maritime labour convention act is very clear about this part that no one can be asked to pay money for an on-board training.
  6. The shipping authorities have taken some measures to ensure that the candidates are made more aware of the fake shipping companies. In 2006 the maritime labour convention act was enforced it clearly mentions that the crewmen cannot be charged for any fees by the manning agency. The main job of the manning agency is to get the proper candidate for the proper job and they are paid by the company if the candidate is selected. They actually have no need to charge any money from the candidate. It is possible that a fraud agency will ask for an administration, facilitation and service fees they can ask for different names. However, remember that you are not liable to pay any fees no matter what the name may be.
  7. It is a fact that for entry level there are not many jobs in the companies as a result the candidates are ready to pay money and get a job. Do not pay any money in advance this is a point that you must keep in mind no matter how desperately you need a job. Try to understand what is the kind of job that you are getting into and what the requirement of the role is. Sometimes the shipping company will ask you to pay money for the visa and the flight tickets in case you are being sent to a shipping company abroad. The point is when you join such a company that is located in a foreign country these expenses will be a part. We must mention here that in most of the cases the companies themselves pay these expenses. Always find information about the company. What is the name, which country and will you be going for a coastal role or an offshore role. The visa is also critical. You must try to understand if you are going to get a work visa or a tourist visa which depends on the duration of the stay.
  8. The fraud agencies try their best to fake documents and everything in order to fool people and make money. This is nothing new and has been happening for a long time all over the world. You must investigate as much as you can. Look at social media see the reviews that people have posted about this company and try to leave no stone unturned. There is nothing wrong in even going to the extent of visiting the police station and enquiring if in the past anyone had lodged any complaint against the shipping company in the past. If you feel that there is something wrong even you must do the duty of a citizen and complaint about these fake agencies so that no one can take advantage of candidates who are desperately looking for a job. These agencies are basically using this point of desperation and cheating people.
  9. It is true that there are many fake agencies out there and maybe they are only adding every day. There are so many that it is impossible for the shipping authorities to control and nab these agencies. That is why the shipping authorities all over the world have made clear rules so that no candidate can be fooled by any fake agency. The need for shipping jobs are high a lot of candidates are required by the shipping companies all across the world. There are many agencies that are genuine and they are doing their best in the field. We cannot say that most of these agencies are fake. A proper investigation is a must. If a shipping company gives a 100% placement guarantee that too is a point to be noted. You must try to find out placement will be provided in what time this is critical. Always remember this point that maritime labour convention clearly mentions that no fee should be charged for the candidates for on-board training. You can always argue with the agency if you are asked to pay money.

We hope that after reading this article the students and candidates will get a fair idea of the fact that there are several shipping agents out there who are nothing but fake and what these students can do to ensure that they are not cheated of their money. It is a fact that there are many fake institutes out there but the good thing is that sufficient steps can be taken to ensure that the students know that the institutes they are joining is reliable.

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