300 ships and more than 1,000 seafarers fall for fake registry scam

Ships and seafarers are being illegally registered under a fake international registry. The Federated States of Micronesia, a tiny archipelago in the western Pacific, has warned of the scam in a letter sent to the United Nations, seen by Splash.

“The Permanent Mission of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) wishes to inform about the illegal registration of vessels, as well as the illegal issuance of seafarers’ certification in the name of the Federated States of Micronesia,” the letter states.

The document adds: “Currently the laws of the FSM do not provide or otherwise allow for an international ship registry. In addition, FSM laws do not provide for issuance of seafarers certification in connection to an international ship registry.”

The document also emphasises the fact that while FSM is yet to be a member of the International Maritime Organization, certain individuals have nonetheless presented false documentation to the IMO stating that they are duly authorised to act as the archipelago’s ship registrar using the name Micronesia International Ship Registry. According to the official source these individuals have gained access to the IMO-assigned codes for vessels to be registered in the name of FSM.

“At this time we believe that there are approximately 300 vessels illegally registered in the name of FSM,” the letter states, adding: “The same individuals are also believed to be connected to the illegal issuance of seafarers’ certification as provided for under the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping of Seafarers (STCW) of 1978”. The FSM Government believes that more than 1,000 illegal seafarers’ certifications have been issued until now.

The Federated States of Micronesia is a country spread across the western Pacific Ocean comprising more than 600 islands with a population of just over 100,000.

The website of the allegedly fake registry, littered with typos, can be accessed here.

Nicola Capuzzo

Nicola is a highly qualified journalist focused on transport economics, logistics and shipping with broad experience in both online and printed media. Specialties: shipping, ship finance, banking, commodities and port economics. He regularly interviews Europe's top shipowner executives for Maritime CEO magazine.


  1. This sounds really strange – did the story originally appear on April 1st?? About 300 vessels, but only 1,000 seafarers? Just over 3 per ship? Curiouser and curiouser.

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