Bogus agencies: A model scam
Watch out for 'talent' scouts at malls and amusement parks; it's the season for modeling and acting scams.
For one, it's flattering (and who doesn't love flattery?) It also makes you think you're headed for a new glamorous and lucrative career.
Forget all that.
Less than savory agencies often set up shop at mall and amusement parks, sometimes pitching a talent show or casting call.
Consumer advocates warn complaints about the scam have started to pick up.
After your initial flattery-filled encounter, you'll likely end up at the agency's office — along with others who got the same spiel. The interview will be something more like a sale-pitch, and a high-pressure one at that.
Here's what you should watch out for:
- Being told you need professional photos shot, and that you must use the agency's photographer. There's usually a steep fee attached, either for the photos or make-up. A real agency might recommend some photographers, but you are free to choose yourself.
- A request for payment upfront. Real agents work on commission. In other words, they get paid when you do. You shouldn't have to pay them in advance. Be on guard double-time when they tell you the only payments can be by cash or money order.
- Being required to take, and pay for, modeling or acting classes at the agency.
- Guarantees that you or your child will get work — sometimes with the promise of a refund.
As in the modeling scam, beware of anyone who asks for money upfront. No responsible, professional in the industry will make you pay money upfront for a chance to be on a show.
In addition to paying attention for the warning signs, before entering into any deal with a supposed modeling agency or casting company, do a little homework. See what you can find out about the company's reputation, complaints lodged against it and what other aspiring models or actors had to say.
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