How a modeling agency scam works
You get approached by a so called ‘agent’ or ‘scout’ and requested to come in for a meeting. Once there, you are told you have the look they have been searching for and would like to book you some work.
Before you can book the work, you must have a portfolio done and a profile created on their site so other ‘clients’ can see you. It all sounds great but there is a catch. The portfolio and profile are not free. There is a hefty fee attached to it but you are ‘guaranteed’ work afterwards.
The above is one of the oldest model scams around – here is why
In many states including California, Florida and New York, agents are not allowed to offer any such services or ask you for money. If they do, they are not really agents, just scammers pretending to be.
Anyway, you have a ‘guarantee’ of work and go in for your portfolio shoot. When you get there you realize there are dozens of people there as well and the photographer is not very professional. The studio is an office and the stylist is the same girl who answers the phones. The dozens of girls all get the same look and are marched into a room one at a time for a few snap shots.
You do the math and realize that they are making 10k on the day from all the girls and most likely only paid the camera guy (who is also the stylist / receptionist’s brother) 100 bucks at most. The equipment used is sub par and you would have most likely got better pictures taken at the local mall.
What about the guarantee?
The so-called ‘guarantee’ is filled with loopholes and is extremely vague. Most of the time they ‘guarantee’ a paid magazine shoot or runway work. The word ‘paid’ can be as little as 2 cents and many of these scammers have a company setup that fulfills those requirements. Such a company can be a small online magazine that they own or a small community fashion show they put on. The magazine has no readership, its just a webpage with pictures of others that no one will ever see. However, offering a shoot for the website and paying you 50 bucks fulfills the guarantee even though you may have just shelled out $500 to the fake agent. They make $450 and fulfill the agreement.
After your one job offer, they are off the hook and you will never see another job from them again.
Before falling for it, remember that no legit agency can guarantee any work because an agent is not the person doing the hiring. An agent is the middle man who sends models to people that MAY hire them. An agent will never know if the model they send will fit the client or if the client will like her.
This type of scam is so wide spread that many states have made it illegal. Legitimate companies stay within the law because they value their license. Scammers don’t care because by the time people have complained, they simply change names and move on.
Most of these operations are fly by night and rent office space for a month at a time. By the time you realize the work is not coming in, they would have already moved onto a new city and a new office.