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Scammers use fake Cook Islands resort to lure overseas job seekers

Wednesday 17 April 2024 | Written by Rashneel Kumar | Published in Crime, Local, National, Technology, Travel

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Scammers use fake Cook Islands resort to lure overseas job seekers
Scammers have created a fake Cook Islands resort named Crown Water Resort to lure people looking for jobs in the tourism industry. 24041621

International scammers have created a fake Cook Islands resort to lure people looking for jobs in the tourism industry. They deceive victims into paying an upfront fee of at least $280.

Cook Islands News learned about this after a former expat worker posted on Facebook seeking advice on whether there was a new hotel named Crown Water Resort operating in Rarotonga.

Speaking to the newspaper, the former expat worker, who is now based in New Zealand, said a recruiter from India offered their friend a job at the Crown Water Resort.

Their friend was provided the link to the hotel and offered a job. The recruiter required the person to pay for the employment contracts.

The jobs being advertised by the recruiter include front office staff, kitchen staff, warehouse staff, security guards, bar staff, housekeeping, spa, life guards and laundry staff.


A recruiter allegedly from India offering jobs in the Cook Islands tourism industry. FACEBOOK/24041620

“He was to pay $280 for his employment fees and (the recruiter) was going to tell him other fees after he first made deposit. He asked me to verify the hotel because I worked in the Cook Islands. And I’m like, hmmm, never heard of it,” the former expat worker said.

The link directs to a website, crownwaterresort.com, with the address Avarua, Arorangi District, Cook Islands.

The website states on its home page: “Welcome to Crown Beach Resort & Spa at Crown Water Resort, where indulgence meets serenity. Immerse yourself in pure bliss and experience the epitome of luxury and romance. Our resort offers everything you desire in one idyllic location. From the moment you arrive, prepare to be swept away by the allure of our pristine surroundings and world-class amenities. At Crown Beach Resort & Spa, your every need is catered to, ensuring a truly unforgettable escape.”

The Arorangi-based Crown Beach Resort and Spa said they are not associated or affiliated with any Crown Water Resort.

“Please be advised that there is someone posing as being in partnership with Crown Beach Resort & Spa and recruiting on our behalf. This hotel is not real and we are NOT in partnership with them in any way whatsoever,” Crown Beach Resort and Spa said in a Facebook post on Thursday, April 11.

“If you have been offered employment by them, please do not further engage in conversation. We are ONLY associated with the email and website domain of crownbeach.com.”

Speaking to Cook Islands News, Sierra Glade-Garner, general manager of the Crown Beach Resort and Spa, said they learned about this scam recently.

“I am currently seeking advice on how we can go about handling this situation and will be posting on our social media that we are in no way affiliated with this scammer,” Glade-Garner said on Thursday last week.

“We have also had people reach out asking for clarifications regarding job offers they have received from this Crown Water Resort. Thankfully, these people did reach out and we were able to let them know we are not in partnership with them and that their offer was a scam.”

Glade-Garner advises people who have been offered jobs from this or other scammers claiming to “partner” with a specific resort to always contact the resort itself to verify the information.

Liana Scott, the president of the Cook Islands Tourism Industry Council, said this was news to her.

However, Scott, the general manager of the Muri Beach Club Hotel, asks job seekers to be more cautious, especially when being offered deals that sound “too good to be true”.

“Scams comes in all shapes and sizes. Checking the legitimacy of offers that sound too good to be true, usually are.  Definitely pays to question if unsure or use online mediums that are well established.”

Karla Eggelton, Cook Islands Tourism chief executive, said they have been made aware of this situation.

“Online scamming, particularly through websites pretending to be legitimate entities, can vary in terms of regulation depending on the jurisdiction. In many countries, there are laws and regulations in place to address fraudulent activities online, including impersonation scams,” Eggelton said.

“One challenge is that scammers often operate across borders, making it difficult for law enforcement agencies to track them down and hold them accountable. Additionally, the ever-evolving nature of technology means scammers can adapt quickly, finding new ways to evade detection and exploit vulnerabilities.

“In this instance there is limited powers currently for the Cook Islands to shut this down and there is very little that can be done for the property affected. It is very concerning and we are looking into the matter further.”

However, Cook Islands Financial Intelligence Unit’s Maru Willie said they have successfully collaborated with overseas counterparts in the past to address similar cases and remove fake sites.

“We have been proactive in raising public awareness about this issue through various channels like CITV, radio, and Cook Islands News newspaper, especially during times like the Covid pandemic when online scams were more prevalent.”