People Smugglers Using Facebook To Advertise Fake ‘Cruises’ To Europe

Men aboard a blue plastic boat point to the sky in the Mediterranean Sea, Tuesday, Sept. 1
AP Photo/Renata Brito

People smugglers in Turkey are allegedly advertising their services under the guise of fake “cruises” on social media platform Facebook, offering to ship migrants to Italy for €5,500.

The journeys are advertised as a three to four day trip aboard a yacht from Turkey to the Sicilian coast on a Facebook page labelled “The Road to Europe” with adults paying the full price, half price for children between four and ten and children under three given a free trip.

According to a report from Italian newspaper Il Giornale, the smugglers also offer a passage from Serbia to Austria, advertised as a €4,000 “camping trip.” Another trip by sea is offered for migrants ot the Greek island of Rhodes for a substantially cheaper €2,100.

The newspaper also claims that the smugglers offer forged passports and visas for any country migrants which to visit, costing €9,000 for European visas and €11,000 for the United Kingdom. The smugglers also offer fake drivers licences and other photo ID cards for between  500 and 800 euros.

In previous years, people smugglers have offered similar “all-inclusive” packages for migrants with enough cash to afford them.

In 2019, investigators described the “first-class” smuggling trend that cost as much as 10,000 euros per person. In 2017, a man from Cameroon living in Morocco claimed that smugglers were offering similar packages to reach Spain.

“Think about it, with several hundreds of refugees you can earn more than a million euros in one day,” the man said.

Facebook has also been used in the past by people smugglers as a way to advertise their services, many of which have been described as “travel agencies” by the smugglers.

The activity of smugglers on Facebook and it’s encrypted messaging service Whatsapp has been noted and criticised by the UN International Organisation for Migration, which called for the social media giant to do more to combat the issue in 2018.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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