What You Need to Know about Acting and Modeling Scams

I know I was telling everybody that I was going to continue a series of videos about auditioning, booking and shooting a job for a new NBC TV series, and I will continue with that. But something just came up that I think might be very, very helpful to everybody, so I wanted to do a video blog on a different topic for today. And this will deal with scams, and that is why I think it’s so important.

You’ve got to be very, very careful out there. I had somebody on my email list, who sent me a question wondering whether this is something she should pursue. She was a little concerned about it, and so it got me thinking that this is something everybody needs to know about.

So let me tell you, I experience these a couple of times and the people that are running these scams, they’re actually very good, they’re smart, they know how to push the right buttons for people who are interested in acting and modeling. And so let me share the information, so you don’t run into a situation where you lose a tremendous amount of money and also really feel bad about the whole experience.

So basically, here’s how this thing works: it’s an internet-based scam and what will happen is you’ll get an email from someone saying that they saw your photos, they loved your shots, they are shooting this major ad campaign that…in my situation, and also with this woman who contacted me, it was going to be running through Europe and for me, well, let me just tell you about mine.

I was going to be on billboards all throughout Europe.

I knew it was a scam right away but i wanted to follow along with them, just to kind of see how they do it so that I can learn from the experience, and once again share it with you. So I emailed back saying it sounds great. I’m assuming then you’re going to fly me to London to do the shoot ’cause this is where this guy said that he was based. Although with his English, his grammar, it didn’t seem like English was his first language.

But, I went along with it and what he told me was they have a photographer and makeup artist traveling the world. And what they do is they go to where the models are, it’s much simpler that way, more economical for them that way, and so he would come to the states and shoot me. And so I’m going along with this and I said “Sounds great!” And so then, I decided I want to test this guy out. I want to see does he really had any information about the industry at all.

He was telling me that he was going to pay me fifteen thousand dollars for the shoot. And I can’t, remember if it was ten or fifteen. It doesn’t matter; it was a very large amount of money so I’ll stick with fifteen for right now. And I said, okay, well, this is running on billboards all throughout Europe and I asked him, “So what is my high exposure format fee?” High exposure formats are billboards, posters, ads on the side of a bus, on the internet, on the package and typically, models get additional fees on top of your regular base pay.

So he said, “Well, let’s do the shot first. We’ll take a look at it and then we can discuss that further.” So as I’m going along with the guy and everything is sounding great and the next email that I get from him was saying that – since the photographer and a makeup artist do travel a lot, what they’re going to do is they’re going to send me a check for twenty thousand dollars which is five thousand more than what we agreed to, but they wanted me to pay the photographer and the makeup artist $5,000.

So I keep the fifteen thousand, but I pay the makeup artist and the photographer five thousand, because it’s easier for them to pay the photographer since they’re travelling.

So that is how they do it. And let me explain it to you. So I called a local bank, and I also called a government office, just to find out (a local state government office), just to find out about scams and they were very familiar with this type of scam. Here’s how it works: they will send the model a check for, you know, the twenty thousand dollars and it looks like it’s from an American-based bank and you go, and you deposit it.

You take out five thousand dollars, so you can pay the makeup artist and the photographer, and you do the shoot, and you pay them.

And then a couple of days later, what will happen is you’re going to get a notice from your bank saying that the check was not good, it bounced. Now you’re out five thousand dollars and the bank is going to say – we want our twenty thousand dollars back because you cashed it and it’s a bad check, and you’ll probably get a penalty for that as well. And you’re out of luck at that point. They’ve already left. They’ve done the shoot. You’ll never see them again. You’ll never hear from them again. So you’ve got to be really careful.

And as soon as I sent an email back to this character – supposedly in England, I said “I want to do the shoot with you. Sounds like a great project, but I don’t pay photographers and makeup artists, so you’ll have to take care of that but certainly, you can send me the fifteen thousand dollar check.” That’s when I stopped hearing from them. So if you hear something from somebody and it’s completely out of the blue and they’re offering some incredible things to you., just be very careful. Do your research, do your homework, ask the right questions and the hard part for us is sometimes, we base decisions based on our heart and not our brain because we want this to happen so badly and believe me, I get it. I’ve made some of those mistakes in the past, not quite like this, but just doing things that weren’t necessarily all that smart. I just wanted it to be true.

So anyhow, I hope this is helpful to you. I hope this saves you a lot of stress, a lot of time, a lot of disappointment and a lot of money.