Jobseekers beware, fake shipping agent is still on the prowl

Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal, U.P. students among victims

They completed their Bachelor of Nautical Science with dreams in their eyes and a loan on their shoulders. They then paid lakhs to a dubious employment agent, hoping to earn a good job on board a safe vessel. Their dreams are shattered today, some have even thought of committing suicide, even as the agent seems to continue running his racket with impunity.

“He is very shrewd. He knows that those staying in Mumbai will call his bluff soon and will make it difficult for him to operate. So he approaches only students like us who are from outside the city or the State. There are many students from Lucknow, Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir, and Kolkata who are still waiting in the hope that Pawan Brar will return their money. He probably knows well that it is difficult for us to identify the other victims. Forget our coming together, filing a complaint and following it up,” said 20-year-old Babu Raghavan from Chennai said.

He and his friends have completed B.Sc. (Nautical Science) from AMET University in Chennai.

Just last year Pawan Brar, believed to be in his 20s, was arrested by the Mumbai Police, along with his accomplice, for duping two students from Vellore in Tamil Nadu after sending an e-mail about fake job opportunities to their college. But he was released later.

Elaborate trap

This time, it seems, he laid a more elaborate trap. He, along with his unknown accomplices, allegedly built a fake website (shown to be under construction), created fake official email ids, gave out a false RPSL number (the Recruitment and Placement Services Licence is mandated by the Directorate General of Shipping for authorised recruiters and agents), and built a fake Facebook page in the name of Pacific Ship India Pvt. Ltd.

Last year, he sent spurious mails to lure students. This year he reached them by word of mouth — thanks to dubious sub-agents and students.

The self-appointed Director of Pacific Ship (India) Pvt. Ltd. GERMAN has so far duped at least 30 students, of more than Rs. 1 crore, extracting anything between Rs. 1.5 lakh and Rs. 3.5 lakh from each of them. The number is expected to rise after many other unsuspecting students across the country come forth and complain.

Meanwhile, the seven youths from Tamil Nadu who were duped have decided to pursue the matter. “We were completely lured by his sweet talk. He initially gave us false reasons why our contracts were being cancelled. We never signed any contract. He just sent us a fake one-page appointment letter. None of the papers he gave us has any registration number. He kept telling us that his RPSL number is being renewed by DG Shipping and will take time. He was very convincing,” said Arumugam Dinesh Kumar, who hails from Madurai.

An Internet search throws up only a .pdf format form designed by ‘Pacific Ship (India) Pvt. Ltd. GERMAN’. The telephone numbers given there are either unreachable or keep ringing incessantly.

Sources in the shipping industry say if an agency has received a valid RPSL number, it will not take the DG Shipping more than two or three working days to update the information on its website.

But it has been months since Brar claimed that his company received RPSL number 232 — a number which does not exist in the DG Shipping’s list of authorised agents for recruitment and placement services.

His office premises, a small rented room at Goregaon, have been locked since the time outstation students started making a beeline there to claim their money. That place now houses a travel agency’s office. The Kurar police have registered a case of cheating against him, but he is still at large.

Modus operandi: sending spurious mail, using fake Facebook page

Self-appointed director has cheated at least 30 students

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