The North Carolina $1,000 Photo Package Scam

Two Former On Track Modeling (OTM) Employees Sued Twice by Attorneys General for Photo Mill Scams, Third Under Investigation for Photo Mill Scam

"Charlotte has become a national hub for modeling scams."1

"Each of these operations exploited the career dreams of would-be models in order to sell high-priced photo packages."2
--Attorney General Tom Miller

"A pair of former On Track recruiters, Richard Hronik and Chad Johnson, left to start their own agencies, said On Track owner RD Ecksmith."3

Chad Johnson Sued by Georgia Attorney General and North Carolina Attorney General
Richard Hronik Sued by North Carolina Attorney General and Iowa Attorney General
Mike Curlee's Direct Talent Source under investigation4 by Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation

"Model Select, which closed last year, was ordered by a state court in January to issue refunds and pay a $25,000 fine."5

Anonymous Email (2003): "I am writing in regard to the news article on your website from June 2002. The model agency is "Model Select International" out of North Carolina, owner Richard Hronik. Thought I'd give you an update on this company. Mr. Hronik moved to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and operated his scam under the name "Model Select International" for a while; then changed the name to "LaBella Reve Model Management." They racked up quite a little bit of debt and people started to discover that they were operating a bogus operation. Their employees quit and they were out of money. So now they're operating their business in Des Moines, Iowa, under the name "Lauren Ashley," and the name is not under Rick Hronik's name anymore; rather, his fiancé, Joy. I'm sorry, but I cannot give you my name or even tell you how I know this information. You should be able to look this info up yourself to verify. I thought you'd be interested."

Comments: Both men hid behind skirts. Johnson hid behind his girlfriend's skirt: Face National was registered in the name of Jennifer Gill; Hronik hid behind his fiancé's skirt: Lauren Ashly was registered in the name of Joy Demeulenaere. The BBB record for Lauren Ashly shows that it is not enough to check BBB records to discern if a company is a scam. Lauren Ashly had zero complaints when the Attorney General took action: "The Bureau has processed no customer complaints on this company in its three-year reporting period."6

1. Andrew Shain, "Clients criticize modeling agencies," Charlotte Observer, Apr. 16, 2003.
2. "'Lauren Ashly' Modeling Agency Ordered to Curtail Operations," Iowa Attorney General, Oct. 22, 2003.
3. Andrew Shain, "Clients criticize modeling agencies," Charlotte Observer, Apr. 16, 2003.
4. Confirmed by P. Villarreal, TDLR, (512) 463-7364, July 12, 2004. Consumer complaints and background-check-linked the company back to On Track Modeling (which also sells photographs).
5. "Modeling scam reports draw attention in Charlotte," Associated Press, Apr. 17, 2003.
6. "BBB Reliability Report for Lauren Ashly," BBB Iowa, http://www.desmoines.bbb.org/common.html?location=/home/common/www/mis67/
report.php&bureau=des&compid=29000495&national=Y
[July 16, 2004]

See also "OTM receives money from its recommended photographer, raising questions of motivation."1

The president of On Track Modeling (aka Alpha Model Group aka Alpha Modeling Group), which sells $1,000 photo packages, has confirmed in writing2 a troubling internet rumour he hired Kerry Killowitz, the leading travelling photography salesman for the Face National Photo Mill Scam.3 (Previously Doug Hill, who used to work for Ecksmith at OTM, went to work for Face National.4 He had worked in Georgia at Worldwide Model Group aka A-Line Models aka A Line Model & Talent Marketing and Talent nka Industria Models and Talent aka Industria Inc., Access Model Marketing, Inc.)

1. Tamar Wilner, " A Model Profession: The Hard Realities of The Modeling Biz," Metro Pulse, Jan. 15, 2002.
2. Email, April 16, 2004.
3. Bill Riales, "Questions About a Modeling Agency," WKRG News-5 Mobile, Jan. 15, 2003.
4. Barbara Nordin, "Losing Face: 'Model search' hits the Doubletree," The Hook, Issue #0208, Feb. 27, 2003. http://readthehook.com/stories/2003/02/26/theFearlessConsumerLosingF.html

Public Rebuttal to Public Comments by Robert Ecksmith (Owner of On Track Modeling aka Alpha Model Group aka Alpha Modeling Group)

See also AGO Smackdown! Photo mill scam victims to get their money back

"The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently brought a case against a modeling agency that placed ads in newspapers to encourage potential models, both men and women, to meet company representatives for group screenings. Many of the newpaper ads stated, "No Fee." At follow-up interviews, however, the selected applicants were asked to sign a contract agreeing to participate in classes and to pay more than $1,000 in advance for photographs that were required before they could work as models. In the end, most of the would-be-models received no photographs and no job leads. The company simply packed up and left town." "Modeling Agency Scams," FTC, n.d. [Nov. 4, 1996]

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