Modeling Scams


Reputable Modeling Agency in Cleveland, Ohio


To Whom It May Concern:

I have a 15-year-old daughter who recently became interested in modeling.

Being new to the modeling research business, trying to find an agency for my daughter has been a real ordeal.

Boy, you just don't realize the amount of scams out there —well, I guess you do or you would not have this site.

I first entered my daughter in a Glamour Pageant here in Cleveland this year. I was not oblivious to the fact that this was more than likely a scam, but we did it for fun more so than a serious competition for modeling, with the expectations of not being scouted by an agency.

There was a cost to us, an upfront cost of $25, but I thought, "Hey, no problem, I can lose 25 bucks."

Well, apparently there was small print somehow stating this was for an application fee or something of that sort.

Nonetheless, then we get the application and they want an additional $100, or something close to that amount.

Well, I paid it just so my daughter would have a fun evening —or so that's what they state in the flyer sent out to us.

What a joke! They did have scouts there locally. Of course we were scouted along with the other several hundred people there.

The funny thing is, I wonder why the scouts —Millennium Model Management out of Cleveland —wanted a $200 registration fee, plus pushed to use their photographer for an additional $1,000.

When I told the gentlemen that I read on the internet that models should never have to pay a registration fee, he told me, "Well, Wilhelmina would never look at your daughter."

I thought, "You little jerk, then why are you?" but I politely said, "We will have to think about it and get back to you later."

He told my daughter, "You have an all-American look, and I would like to use you. Why didn't you get into modeling earlier?"

We never did pay a cent, so I can't say they are a scam, but all the red flags were there.

New Faces out of PA charges $150 to put your picture in a book to give to agencies. Did not pay for a contract here, either, too scared to lose $150. They said any photo would do and to send it in with the contract.

I thought that was odd, because you would think they would want to approve a great head shot? I mean that is business for them, why any photo, that did not have to be professional?

All the scouts from the Glamour Pageant had an invitational call back, but wanted money. This was not what I expected from a scout at a pageant after paying cold cash. Where the heck did they get these scouts? Scam me some more?

Geez, it's not bad enough that you get taken by the Glamour Pageant, but you would think that they would at least have some legitimate agencies scouting on their panel of judges.

Next she (my daughter) is scouted in a local mall in Strongsville, OH, by the former business called [...] now under a new name.

Anyway, another room filled with ugly people, even crippled, limping individuals all looking for fame. Another scam in the works wanting over $500, and the sad thing is I am sure most those people didn't even have the money to waste. Unbelievable!

I did find a nice photographer here in Medina, OH, who took some pics for her, and charged me a minimal fee of $74 —gave her a nice portfolio folder, CD-Rom, some pics, flyers from his business with her picture on it, and cards with her picture on it for advertisement to give family and friends.

He posted her pic on his site at www.clavestone.com under models (Alisia if you want to look). That was fun and exciting for her, and I did realize he is a semi-professional photographer, but for the cost, I love the pics, even if we use them in frames around the house.

My journey is just about come to an end, I have yet to find a legitimate agency here in Cleveland. I think my daughter would rather be rejected than scammed for money.

I think a site like this is needed, I am sure these agencies hate sites like this, but someone needs to keep them in check.

They can get away with murder knowing all they need to do is get one job for their models —and, boom, they are a business.

In fact the gentlemen from New Faces said exactly that, and warned the group of potential models for the agency of all the scams, and how this business was not a scam.

(I never did find out if they are a scam, too, because I did not pay the fee for putting her picture in a book to be sent to agencies.)

I did research at the BBB, and both these agencies (Millennium Model Management and New Faces) have a good standing, so maybe I am wrong, but all the red flags are there.

Is this just expected —cost to the model? Every scam site posted on the net says anyone who wants a fee is a scam. I am so confused at times my head could spin.

Thanks for hearing me out, I just wanted to get this off my chest and wish you the best of luck.

I have sat through three call back/open call type sittings, and it makes you sick to see the mothers fussing with their kids behind the scenes.

I've seen women in the bathrooms just coating their poor kids with hairspray, makeup, etc... just to be scammed by some jerk that looks at you as a paycheck and commission.

The Glamour Pageant beats all. The woman running the program was out in the corridor of the hotel puffing her lungs out on cigarettes every chance she got —great role model!

She had dark circles under her eyes, probably running from city to city, getting as much cash flow as possible with a skeletal crew.

Nothing was personable at this pageant. The girl who won in my daughter's age group had a big butt and was about 5'2'' —although she did have a pretty face.

My daughter did win best model, but after she was off stage, there was no hand shake, no personal attention, or no follow-up letter of congratulations.

Keep up the good work.

A.W.


A.,

You said: "I have yet to find a legitimate agency here in Cleveland."

Ford Models is the most reputable modeling agency in the world, or right up there with the most successful like Elite, IMG, and Wilhelmina. They have an office in Cleveland, Ohio. Here is their address and telephone number:

Ford Models Cleveland
1300 East 9th Street Suite 1640
Cleveland, OH 44114

Tel: 216 522-1300
Fax: 216 522-0520

You should be able to attend a free open call with your daughter or drop off pictures. It should not cost you a dime. Call for details.

You may not need a professionally taken photo if you are submitting it to an agency. A snapshot will usually do, as long as it is decent, in focus, etc. That can be enough for them to see if there is potential for modeling.

But once they see the potential and they have already decided to represent a model, and the photo is going to be published, or sent to agencies, as you said it would, you would hope it would be a high quality image for the most effective marketing.

There are scouts and agencies, etc., that tell you they are not a scam but they act like they are a scam. "We are not like them" is the all-too-common mantra. They are, however, the ones which make you wonder.

You said, "They can get away with murder knowing all they need to do is get one job for their models —and, boom, they are a business."

It seems as if there are modeling or scouting companies which try to use an exception to prove a rule. This is why the emphasis should not be only the old, tired success stories, but the company's success rate.

You also said, "Is this just expected —cost to the model? Every scam site posted on the net says anyone who wants a fee is a scam. I am so confused at times my head could spin."

It is true you will often see comments on websites which paint the picture in black and white. All companies asking for fees are scams, they say.

It is not always crystal clear if this is always true, although it can be a good guide, especially for those who have not studied the industry, or cannot see shades of gray.

I think it is illegal in some states to require a registration fee at a model/talent agency. Here is how it works in California, for example, from a BBB document, under a section called: "The role of licensing in determining legitimacy":

The greatest part of determining whether the agency is legitimate or not has to do with licensing.
 
It's important to know that talent agencies (this includes, generally, anyone who secures employment or engagements for actors and models) are required to be licensed by the State and bonded.
 
They are not allowed to charge a registration fee or any other fee, whatever they may call it, for registering or listing you for entertainment employment or for photographs, video tapes, or similar services.

Even if the state of Ohio where you are does not have the exact same law, the significance of the strictness of the rules in California serves as strong guidance or a clear guideline for determining if a modeling or talent agency in another state is legitimate.

The New York state BBB has a document listing "Warning Signs of a Non-Reputable Modeling Manager or Modeling Promoter." At the top of the list, it says a non-reputable manager often "charges an advance fee or 'registration' fee."

In further discussion about legal requirements, in a section called "How the Laws Protect You," they make references to both agencies and scouts:

No legitimate agency takes an advance fee, which is sometimes called a "registration fee" or a "consultation fee."
 
This practice is prohibited in the state of New York by New York General Business Law Section 396-n.
 
Personal managers, talent scouts, talent agents, or any person or firm associated with show business are prohibited from advertising that it has employment available, or is able to secure any employment when an advance fee is a condition to such employment. (New York Arts Cultural Affairs 37.07)

The State identified and shut down the conflict of interest so consumers don't get scammed by false advertising and false promises.

In most industries, the industry giants pay the most for advertising. You see their advertising on TV, in magazines, newspapers, with full-page ads, sometimes several full-page ads.

In the modeling industry it is different. It seems the biggest names which are legitimate hardly advertise, but there is reason for this. As the BBB document cited earlier said:

Legitimate agents do not, as a rule, advertise at all. They're far more likely to have acting and modeling hopefuls beating down their doors.

There would be little point in some of the big names advertising. If they already have to turn away so many people they would only be paying for more of the same problem.

Meanwhile the scouting companies or agencies which are allegedly unethical or conduct illegal business, pay for advertising and they are more visible through ads on radio, TV, newspapers, etc.

So, unfortunately, many consumers often have a bad experience with a scam company before they find a legitimate and reputable modeling agency because they don't have knowledge about the modeling industry and the modeling scams are what they are exposed to first.

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Ford Models is no longer in the Cleveland area? Thanks for your reply.

A.W.


Ford Models has listed the address given in the 2002 Model and Talent Directory (p. 124), and the google.com web directory at the time of writing says:

Ford Models Inc. - http://www.fordmodels.com
International industry leader with New York headquarters, and offices in Los Angeles, Miami, Scottsdale, Chicago, Cleveland, Canada, Europe, and Brazil.

You can confirm with their head office in NY if they relocated, left, or send pictures directly to them as per the instructions on their flagship website.

Good luck!

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