ITF Releases “ShipBeSure” New Web Tool Helping Seafarers Avoid Scams and Fake Jobs

Aug 03, 2021

Every day seafarers seeking jobs online fall victim to fraudulent emails, texts and ads from scammers pretending to be legitimate manning agencies. This trend has increased during the pandemic when thousands of seafarers were left without jobs. 

In order to help seafarers avoid scam job ads and confirm legitimate manning agencies the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) has launched web tool ITFShipBeSure. This website is a game-changer which will give seafarers searching for jobs on cargo and cruise ships, access to information that will help them navigate through what can be a complicated and sometimes precarious process. features a directory of manning agents that have been rated by the ITF as either green (good to go) or red (best avoided). The site initially covers four countries that are major crew suppliers but will be expanded and eventually include much of the world. The launch countries are India, Indonesia, Myanmar and the Philippines.

“Every year, hundreds of seafarers are scammed or defrauded by manning agents,” said Steve Trowsdale, the ITF Inspectorate Coordinator.  “Our inspectors have long experience in identifying the illegal practices of dubious agents. We wanted to pass on that knowledge so seafarers can find good, reliable work.”

Trowsdale hopes the web tool will stamp out fake, rogue and non-compliant agents.

The site helps seafarers understand what good manning agents can do for them. And what bad agents may try. It details what they should expect in a contract and how they can make sure they’re getting a fare deal. It also includes links to the employment pages of cruise ship operators.

“Scams to trick job seekers out of money or to steal their documentation are proliferating,” said Trowsdale. “ITFShipBeSure also includes a guide to spot these scams and a regularly updated section that highlights the scams we know about. The golden rule is: if a job looks too good to be true it almost certainly is.”

Some scams look highly professional and it's all too easy to fall into their trap. But ShipBeSure includes a Look Up section where seafarers can search on ships or find contact details for their nearest union rep or ITF inspector.

“Knowing as much as possible is the best way to protect yourself: about a ship you plan to work on, the recruitment process, and the terms and conditions,” said Trowsdale. “That knowledge is what we aim to provide with ShipBeSure.”