Scams in the modeling world are numerous, but it’s important to note that scams aren’t just a modeling “thing” and that some are easier to fall for than others. This guide is meant to be a quick overview and is certainly not all inclusive or without exception. Remember to follow your instincts and if you feel you might be facing a scam, find an experienced model or photographer you trust and speak to them about it. I’ve also included a link with more in-depth examples at the end.
Too Good To Be True Scams
Some of the more common modeling scams in general are what I call the “Too Good To Be True” scams and these are pretty much what the name says they are. A couple examples:
- You’re a brand new model and someone sends you a PM for a big project and offers you a lot of money.
- Someone offers to fly you, often all expenses paid, to a big city (New York is a common one) for either some vague type of shoot or something that sounds too good to be true
- Someone offers to send you a check up front, then asks you to keep some portion and then send the rest back or to someone else. This one is commonly called a Nigerian Scam and you can find out a lot more by Googling that term.
- Someone contacts you asks you to work for some very large company or magazine, but doesn’t seem to have the credentials or connections (beware of fake email addresses and websites with this one as well).
These are most commonly targeted at newer models, but I still get these sorts of messages from time to time. If you get an offer that seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Generally, if an “agency” contacts you wanting you to pay for photos or classes, it is a scam. This is another very common scam for new models. Agencies are often very selective and unless you have quite a good look, most models have to go to the agency, the agency does not come looking for them. Chances are if the “agency” is contacting you, they’re trying to get you to hand them some money under the guise of classes or a building a portfolio.
If you are interested in finding workshops in your area to help you with posing and such, I recommend asking experienced models and photographers in your area if they know of any.
This one is a bit newer and the people running these scams don’t always target newer models. The general idea is that they ask you to “pose” on webcam (Skype, for example), often in lingerie or nude, in order to possibly qualify for some kind of shoot. This is a scam to get you scantily clad or nude on cam for their personal enjoyment.
Bait & Switch Shoots
Bait and switch shoots are basically when a photographer is talking to you about a trade shoot and then suddenly switches to asking you for payment, often hoping to guilt you into paying. Some people might not consider this a scam, but I do. I think these photographers do this on purpose and no matter how talented or popular they may be, it’s still an attempt to trick models into paying them. The best way to avoid this is to make sure you know what the compensation terms are before getting too far into booking a shoot. Don’t be shy to ask “I’m sorry if I missed where we discussed this before, but will this be a trade shoot?” or something similar. And there is nothing wrong with you contacting a photographer about paying them for a shoot or with a photographer offering you their rates if you contact them about a shoot, but the issue is when they led you to believe you would be shooting trade and then ask you for money.
Thank you for reading my quick guide to modeling scams. Here are a couple more links that I think you might find helpful.
If you are on ModelMayhem, I strongly suggest you read this article that will help you recognize modeling scams there and also shows you how to report them: Avoiding Scams: The Basics.
Here is a great thread on Model Mayhem with several good examples and even more information about modeling scams: http://www.modelmayhem.com/forums/post/575330/1
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