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.