Modeling Scams

How to spot a modeling scam

Like any other industry, the modeling world has its predators. Scams happen and there are a few sure-fire modeling scams to look out for.

The Fake Agency

Most modeling agencies work on a Monday-Friday, 9-5pm basis. If you are contacted to attend an "open call" or a "talent review”, make sure it's between these hours. Also, to avoid modeling agency scams, look to see if there is a license on the wall. All agencies must be licensed. Listen to what's going on around you. Are the phones ringing? Do you hear actual work being booked? If not, it could be a modeling scam.

The Photo Mill

By far the most popular of modeling scams: this is an agency that makes its money by sending models to photographers that are on staff to shoot expensive photos and produce a comp card. These agencies don't make their money by booking work but scam models by selling pricey photography. Be suspicious of any company that forces you to shoot with a certain photographer. A legitimate agency will give you a testing list – a round-up of good photographers in your area that you'll be able to contact and pick on your own. Also, a brand new model should never print more than 500 cards at one shoot. It's simply a way to introduce yourself to clients. You shouldn't have to write your cheque out to the agency, only to the printing company directly.

The On Line Pitch

Another modeling scam is the agency that tries to sell you their online website. Most agencies have websites; however, you shouldn't be forced to sign up for this on the spot. If it looks like they are working for you, then consider this option. Just like with the photo mill scam, the online agencies make their money by you laying down your credit card rather than booking work for their clients.


Conventions are not necessarily modeling scams. However, if you live in a large market or very close to one, there is no reason to pay someone money to meet with agents in your backyard. Some conventions are designed more for commercial types and actors. Make sure you're picking the right convention for your type. Before signing up for a convention, ask for the list of agencies that are attending. Make sure that they are the real deal, not new (or scam) agencies just starting up. Check out what the convention fee includes. Scam agencies not only make their money from the registration fee you pay but also from the following: ticket sales, dinners, obligatory pre-convention photo shoots and mark ups on your hotel room.

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