Blog entry – Scammers preying on newbie models

With today’s electronic world making it so easy to reach across oceans and borders and talk to anyone anywhere…anonymously, it is so important for today’s model and actor to be smart, savvy and somewhat of a sleuth. (Actually, this goes for anyone and everyone posting personal information on the worldwide web.) With so much information available to just about anyone, anywhere, you’ve got to get a little street smart! Naiveté is dangerous. You either need to have a team of people you trust watching your back at all times or you need to empower yourself with some investigative skills.

We’ve all seen the emails from some poor widow or attorney or prince or king of some obscure, unknown country promising us millions if we just do this and that. It has now carried over into our world–the entertainment and fashion industries. For those of you with profiles on the various modeling sites and actors sites out there…be very, very careful! Scammers are getting more and more clever, posing as managers, photographers, etc.

One of our models was recently contacted by a “photographer” shooting a catalog for an unnamed client. Red flags instantly went up when the photographer promised up-front money, but with specific instructions on what to do with that money. Deposit it here. Send it here. Notify me when you’ve done this. Etc. Etc. If all that wasn’t enough to turn you off and make you run, all it took was a simple google search on the supposed photographer’s name to verify that this guy was a huge scammer. Several scam warnings immediately came up, flashing exclamation points and warning after warning on various sites.

It’s very simple…if the offer seems too good to be true, it most likely it is. If an “unbelievably, great offer” is not negotiated through your agent, then beware. There are several cues that should send up red flags when talking to someone who has approached you:

1. If you have an agent, tell them thank you for their interest in you, but to please contact your agent. If they don’t want to deal with your agent…RED FLAG!
2. If you have a bad feeling…RED FLAG!
3. If they offer you upfront money or guarantees…RED FLAG!
4. If they have a gmail, yahoo, hotmail or any other public domain email address…RED FLAG! A reputable photographer, stylist, agent, manager, etc. should have a website.
5. If their grammar, spelling, language seems a little off in their correspondence…RED FLAG!
6. If something just seems off…RED FLAG!

Pay attention to these cues and gut feelings. Be smart. Be savvy. Take the advice of those who know:
1. If you have an agent, contact them immediately. They can tell you right away if it is legit or not.
2. Check out the person! Do a little investigating before you commit. You can find out just about anything on the web these days! A simple search can reveal so much.
3. Never ever exchange money with an unknown source!
4 ALWAYS FOLLOW YOUR GUT! If it feels wrong, it probably is.