Unfortunately, the modelling industry breeds scam artists. The young, vulnerable girls who are attracted to the fashion world are the perfect prey for predators hoping to lure them in. Mostly hiding behind a computer screen, online forums and social media, untrustworthy individuals contact teens without having to reveal their true identity. Therefore, if you are a looking to break into the industry or already had a few modelling jobs and are searching for new roles you have to be very careful. It seems as though the issue is escalating with one modelling agency claiming to have received 700 emails with tales of dreadful stories. We have created a useful guide to staying safe online as your safety should be your number one priority.
Common Signs of a Scam Artist
There are common signs that will highlight immediately if someone is trying to con you and are not legit. If you receive a message or are told these things by a modelling company please stay clear. Simply ignore or politely decline and move on.
Call you by inappropriate, unprofessional name such as ‘hunny’, ‘sexy’, ‘gorgeous’ etc.
If an email, Facebook message or Instagram comment is addressed in this way, do not reply. It is an obvious sign that the sender is not trustworthy. A professional company would never risk their reputation by calling you these names. They are trying to trick though flattery yet it is actually a disrespectful way to address someone they don’t know.
Ask for you to send nude or topless images.
Never send topless or nude images. If someone asks you to send a nude photo, cut the conversation straight away. Whilst at a shoot if you are asked to remove clothing simply decline. They may try to persuade you by explaining it is normal to have a few nude photos in your portfolio, however, it is simply untrue. They could upload these images to the Internet, which are never truly deleted. Both female and male models are put in this uncomfortable situation.
During a Skype call, Messenger or WhatsApp chat ask for you to undress.
Many are lured in over a Skype call to undress so the person on the other side of the camera can see if your physique is suitable for modelling. Again, this is unnecessary and is purely done to grab nude screenshots of you. If you are about to do an online video chat make sure that you keep your clothes on throughout. Do not be persuaded as the scam artists are hoping to use the footage or photos in an inappropriate way.
Arrange for you to meet at his/her place.
When you are meeting up with someone online always take your parent with you. Also, meet in a public place such as a café. Never go to his/her house or travel to a new city or country alone. Unfortunately, they could be luring you into a dangerous situation that once you are in you cannot get out of. If you have any doubts whatsoever do NOT meet them. Always consult with your parents and do not keep it a secret.
Ask for a large sum of money
If you are asked for a large amount of money on the first email it could be a scam. Even if they just ask for a deposit of say £250 do not pay it. It is more than likely that someone who asks for a large upfront fee without even meeting you is going to keep the money without providing the goods. Some say that the fee is to secure an appointment. Avoid paying any money without knowing 100% that the company is legit.
Ask for you to not tell your parents about them or the modelling job.
Many scam artists try to be sneaky and ask teens to not tell their parents. This should ring alarm bells that he/she is trying to lure you into a trap, as anyone under the age of 18 should have their parents consent to be signed to an agency or to be part of a photoshoot. Anyone who tries to go against these strict rules is not be trusted. Always tell your parents about messages that your receive on social media about modelling. Their experience and parent instinct will be able to protect you from a scam artist’s tactics.
Signs of a Legit Company
We’ve highlighted how untrustworthy individuals and companies act. Now, here is a list of ways that show legit organisations and agencies behaviour when dealing with new talent.
- Open during normal business hours. Agents usually work at their office from 9-5. If you receive a message late at night this may not be legit.
- Have a list of brand, designers and companies that are well known with a good reputation.
- Contact you via telephone and email after you have applied to the agency. Legit companies very rarely message via social media.
- Operate under a recognised name that has a strong reputation in the industry. However, remember to ring or email if you receive a message from a person claiming to be from a certain agency. Take the number/address from their website and not directly from the message. The phone call or email will clear up if it was from them or not.
- Their use of language is very professional and do not use slang, disrespectful terms or seductive compliments such as sexy, gorgeous or hunny.
It is important to remember that scam artists will try to operate under a legit companies name to trick models. Many will just see the name and believe what they are saying. Therefore, always double check with the company themselves to find out if it is actually them or not. If they contact you through Snapchat or any other social media platform, it will not be them. Also, if they ask for lingerie or nude shots ignore immediately. Once the legitimate company hears from you they can contact the social media company to ensure that the account is blocked and other teens are not targeted in this way.