Beware of Model Scouting Scams, Published by Karen Slade-Harrell
Scouting scams are usually at the root of modeling scams.
The concept is very basic. People are told they have the look, they could be models, and they are “model material.”
The goal is to get the person to sign up for any number of things which will cost hundreds or thousands of dollars.
For example, modeling school, modeling photos, online comp cards, a model search a modeling convention, model marketing, a model magazine, or a modeling contest.
Anyone can tell anyone they have the look. There is nothing in the words which proves the person who said them is a scout, is qualified to scout, or is sincere.
One difference between a true scout and a bogus scout is sincerity. But how do you know if a scout is sincere?
One test is to find out if the scout is paid by commission. Not commission on the number of people they sign up, but commission on the work the model receives through the agency.
Like a reputable modeling agency, a reputable scout typically gets paid only after the model gets work.
A real scout can be paid a 5-10% commission of the model’s future earnings taken from the 20% commission the agency gets, not the 80% the model keeps.
The question to ask is: does the scout in question get paid before the aspiring model gets work, and, most significantly, even if the aspiring model doesn’t get work?
If the scout does get money up front, or is part of a business plan where money has to be paid up front, then there is a significant conflict of interest.
How can you trust someone who is paid like that?
Scouting scams themselves are often rooted in flattery. It all begins with the tired pickup line: “You are beautiful. You have the look! You could be a model.”
The proverbial “look” is not defined. Scouting is inherently subjective. In other words, you can make it up. Anyone can be told they have “the look” — whatever the look is.
The scouts who are involved in scouting scams typically have no qualifications.
Jennifer Julian at ABC News in North Carolina reported the complaint of a former model about a scouting scam. Susan Harris, who had modeled for 10 years internationally, in places like New York and Milan, found a company where the “scouts” were recruiting potential models, basically anyone they met.
Scouts for the company were using these tired pickup lines:
“You’ve got the look.” “I couldn’t help but notice how beautiful you are.” “Have you ever thought of modeling?”
Men or women with little or no modeling industry experience, and no professional training by industry experts — absolutely no qualifications — approached people on the street, at the mall, in a store, anywhere.
On April 6, 2002, Jenifer Ragland of the Los Angeles Times reported the story of a high school teacher accused of being a pedophile (“accused of crimes involving 11 teens”) that got a job as a model scout for a modeling scouting business.
How was the “scout” hired? By whom? An agency?
You ask bogus model scouts if they responded to a job which said “No experience necessary,” and they don’t answer.
They don’t know what they are doing, and if you ask them whom they have discovered, the conversation comes to an abrupt end.
Reputable scouts work for an agency and/or have previously scouted models who have worked successfully in the modeling industry — and their claims can be verified.
A popular scam is agents, scouts, agencies, et al telling potential models they have been “selected,” implying they are selective, but they say the same thing to many people — as many as possible.
It is all part of a reliable scheme of flattery, a game of numbers, catching people to make a quota.
Scouts either say or imply they are selective. To say or imply you are selective when you are not is fraud. To say or imply you have the expertise to judge the suitability of people as models, actors, or entertainers in the commercial advertising, talent modeling or entertainment industries, when you do not, is also fraud.
In its 1999 complaint against three bogus modeling/talent agencies, the FTC alleged that they falsely represented themselves as selectively scouting for models and actors when in fact the companies accepted all candidates who made a deposit.
Working in tandem with bogus modeling scouts there are bogus talent executives. These people are unqualified to say who has and who does not have a good chance of success in modeling or acting.
The title itself is misleading: “Talent Executive.” The scam starts with the title and ends with their selection decision.
When you have been selected, what it really means is that you have been selected to pay them.
The scam can be supported by fraudulent claims that very small percentages of aspiring models actually get selected.
Awareness and understanding of scouting scams will help keep aspiring models from starting down the path which leads to being scammed.
Modeling businesses which have scouting scams can be brought to their financial knees if their feet (scouts) are cut off.
If the government could enact legislation to deal severely with scouting scams, many people would not waste money or be defrauded.
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