Ripoff Alert #7 – Acting and Modeling Edition

The Ripoff Alert is a new series appearing once each week on Fridays. It alerts you to the latest scams and ripoffs trying to get between you and your money, and gives you information you need to stay safe.

Acting and Modeling Scams

“Your child is just so beautiful! She has such great potential! We just know that she’ll make it in this business.”

“All we need from you is $500 for an agency fee, and we’ll get her hooked up with some of the best-known modeling agencies. Just sign here.”

Have you taken your child to a modeling or acting event and heard something like this? Unfortunately in these two industries, there are many more scam artists than legitimate players.

These traveling scamsters come to your town, set up shop in a hotel ballroom, and stage a selection process where they ask some kids to stay and send others away. To those who remain, they lie by claiming they have the connections to make your child a star. They then ask for an upfront fee for an evaluation, photographs and other expenses. It’s pretty easy to get caught up in the hype, because this is what your child wants. You just want to make him or her happy, right?

If your child is into acting or modeling, there are better options than attending one of these ripoff sideshows. For acting, the best option is to sign up for a class at your local theater group. Your child may be able to take an acting class, learn special tips and instruction from experienced actors, or even take part in a play. For parents, the people you meet here can be valuable connections when it comes to advancing your child’s acting career.

For modeling, call up photographers and ad agencies in your area to see which agents they use.  When meeting with an agent, ask to see some head shots and composite sheets of models they represent. Also, only agree to meet at his or her office during business hours.

The key to not getting taken by acting and modeling scams is to avoid paying any upfront fees. Legitimate agencies earn their money by taking a cut of jobs they obtain for the actors and models they represent.  The only money you should spend is for photographs of your child.

Also, beware of any absurd promises made to you. As I mentioned in the beginning, scamsters attempt to pull at your heart strings by telling you what a beautiful, well-behaved child you have. The modeling and acting businesses are traditionally very difficult to break into, and no legitimate agent will puff you up like that.

Finally, before doing business with any agent, check with the Better Business Bureau to see if there are any complaints against the agency.

9 thoughts on “Ripoff Alert #7 – Acting and Modeling Edition

  1. This reminds me of an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond, where his brother Robert falls for one of these scams. Don’t fall for it. I know you think your kids are just the cutest things, but don’t get caught up in a scam.

  2. Yes I bet parents would be throwing money at these scammers in the hopes of making their child a star. Most of those parents would be pretty ignorant about how the whole acting & modeling business works. It would seem quite reasonable that they would need to pay some kind of upfront fee to get the ball rolling. The emotion of it all would be quite blinding.

    • As long as the fee the scammers are charging is reasonable (say, $500), parents don’t really think it through. They may look at it as just one of the costs of advancing their child’s “career.” But it’s important to step back and realize that any acting or modeling agency that charges an upfront fee is trying to take advantage of you.

  3. This is something thats quite common in the UK too. They stand in town/city centres and ambush people telling them how amazing they look and then tell them they need money for the photos to be taken before leaving them with some average photos and a significantly lighter wallet!

    – Mary

    • Hi Mary! Thanks for stopping by. So instead of getting you to come to them as I’ve described above, the scammers are going to you on the streets! This is a new angle I haven’t heard before. Thanks for the tip.

  4. A few years back my sister was almost taken by one of these scams. She is a pretty girl and they told her all those lines of crap. Fortunately my Dad didn’t pay the up front fee and it didn’t go very far.

    I feel like this sort of scam is really popular again with all the “Competition Moms” out there looking to make their children into stars.

    • When you say Competition Moms I think of that show on TLC my wife watches,
      where the little girls dress up and compete in pageants. Seems like the moms get into it more than the girls. Ha!

      I’m glad to hear your family wasn’t taken by this common scam. I wonder what made your dad decide against paying them.

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