Teen almost sinks savings on cruise job scam

2013-07-08 00:00

A YOUNG Howick woman almost fell victim to a luxury cruise job scam ­allegedly targeting young South ­Africans.

Bronwen Harvard (19), a sports coach intern at Howick Preparatory School, responded to an advert looking for staff on a luxury cruise ship.

She almost spent her savings on a maritime licence allegedly required for the job but she realised at the last minute it was a hoax.

“The salaries offered were amazing, and it seemed like a fabulous opportunity,” she told The Witness.

She sent off her CV and was thrilled when she received a reply saying the hirers were interested in her.

She looked at the website and it seemed professional, and they sent her a contract and a list of requirements, including a visa.

The small catch was that she would be expected to pay for a maritime safety certificate in advance, which would cost about R4 000.

The cruise liner would pay for her airline ticket and her visa.

Harvard went to the bank and organised a Moneygram to transfer money for the maritime safety certificate, but the bank cashier said she was short R400.

“I approached a friend for a loan and my friend advised me to take a closer look at the company before sending the money,” she said.

After a more thorough Internet search, Harvard discovered there were two cruise liner websites with almost identical names: Crystal Cruises and Crystal Cruise Lines.

The one was a genuine one and the other a fake.

The real one contains a warning to people not to be fooled by offers of employment.

Harvard said: “ I was relieved I had not sent my savings but I also felt like a fool. I read that they target South Africans on purpose knowing that young South Africans want to travel and are finding it difficult to get jobs.”

A year ago the same scam happened to Alistair Cook, also from ­Howick. He was offered a job on board the Oceania, a different ocean liner — but the modus operandi was exactly the same.

Like Harvard, he was asked to send money to an account in Guinea for a maritime safety certificate — then the penny dropped.

He realised the whole job set-up had been an elaborate scam.

He said: “I guess I was too hopeful and naive but I learnt quickly.”

• trish.beaver@witness.co.za

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