The Photo Mill Modeling Scam of the Century

"The lady (at Karisma) was the fastest-talking lady I ever met," Schub said. "She could talk without even breathing. When I signed the check, she grabbed it so fast . . . she smudged the ink. Right away, I just thought, 'What did I get myself into?' "

The Legal Intelligencer

September 30, 1993, Thursday

SECTION: LOCAL NEWS; Pg. 7

LENGTH: 265 words

HEADLINE: Bogus Modeling Agency Owner Sentenced

DATELINE: PHILADELPHIA

BODY:
A man who ran at least five bogus modeling agencies and defrauded about 2,000 people in the Philadelphia area was sentenced yesterday to 3 years and one month in prison.

U.S. District Judge Charles R. Weiner also ordered George Bing Tonks to pay $ 525,640 in restitution to victims of his scam, who paid agency fees and bought photos but never received modeling assignments.

Before Tonks pleaded guilty in July to mail fraud, money laundering and contempt, he spread his scam from the Philadelphia area to Dallas, San Francisco, New York and other cities -- even after U.S. District Judge Norma L. Shapiro issued an injunction against him.

Shapiro also entered a $ 2.1 million judgment against Tonks, which represented the total loss to individuals nationwide who were victims of his fraud.

Tonks used his alias, David L. duPont, during the entire course of a trial before Shapiro -- never revealing that it was not his real name, Assistant U.S. Attorney Tamara Jaycox Kessler said.

In July, Tonks admitted that he ran bogus modeling agencies in Philadelphia and Marlton, N.J., between September 1998 and October 1991. He convinced aspiring models to have their portfolios done by certain photographers, who turned the fees over to him.

If clients complained about not receiving modeling assignment, Tonks referred them to the Model Managers Association of America, which he described as the "better business bureau in the modeling industry." In fact, the association's phone rang in his office, and it was Tonks who assured irate callers that the agencies were reputable.

LOAD-DATE: October 5, 1993

 

The Legal Intelligencer

August 3, 1993, Tuesday

SECTION: DATELINE; Pg. 7

LENGTH: 1593 words

BODY:

Bucks . . . Montgomery . . . Delaware . . . Chester . . . Philadelphia . . . Camden . . . Burlington . . . Gloucester . . . Pittsburgh . . . Harrisburg . . . Reading . . . Scranton . . . Trenton . . . Newark . . . Princeton . . . Atlantic City . . . Bucks Montgomery . . . Delaware . . . Chester . . . Philadelphia . . . Camden . . .
Philadelphia

A 25-year-old man has admitted to duping nearly 2,000 aspiring models out of more than $ 525,000 through bogus modeling agencies he established in the area.

During a hearing Friday before U.S. District Judge Charles R. Weiner, George Bing Tonks, who went by the alias David L. DuPont, pleaded guilty to mail fraud and money laundering in connection with the scheme he ran between September 1988 and October 1991.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Tamara Jaycox Kessler said Tonks also pleaded guilty to criminal contempt for running a similar modeling scam in the Chicago area -- he had been enjoined from doing so by a federal judge in Philadelphia.

Would-be models who contacted Tonks' Philadelphia-area agencies were told by employees that they would receive choice assignments. All they had to do, Tonk told them, was to have photos taken by certain photographers, who gave Tonks most of the fees they charged to take the photos, Kessler said.

When clients began to complain about not receiving any modeling assignments, Tonks referred them to the Model Managers Association of America, which he described as the "Better Business Bureau in the modeling industry." In fact, the association was his idea and its phones rang in his office, where he assured irate clients that his agencies were reputable.

Tonks is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 29 at 9:30 a.m. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison and a $ 750,000 fine.

 

Philadelphia Inquirer, The (PA)

April 23, 1993

MODELING-AGENCY OPERATOR CHARGED WITH FRAUD 1,800 PEOPLE WERE PROMISED MODELING AND ACTING JOBS. THEY PAID $395 FOR NOTHING, THE INDICTMENT SAID.

Author: Gary Cohn, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER

Edition: FINAL
Section: LOCAL
Page: B02

Index Terms: CHARGED PHILADELPHIA CONSUMER FRAUD

Article Text:

The operator of a series of Philadelphia-area modeling agencies was indicted yesterday on charges of luring about 1,800 would-be models and actors with deceptive promises and defrauding them of a total of $717,738.

David L. DuPont , 25, who operated modeling agencies in Philadelphia, Marlton and other cities, was charged with six counts of mail fraud, 18 counts of money laundering and one count of contempt.

If convicted of all counts, DuPont faces a maximum sentence of 210 years in prison and a $6 million fine, federal authorities said yesterday.

DuPont could not be reached for comment yesterday.

In its indictment, a federal grand jury alleged that deceptive modeling agencies operated by DuPont recruited would-be models and actors by leading them to believe that the agencies had a steady clientele of companies that hired models and actors; that the agencies made their money by marketing the would-be models and actors, and that the agencies were very selective about which models it accepted.

In reality, the grand jury alleged, the agencies did not have any clientele, accepted virtually anyone who walked through the doors and made its money by selling photographs to the would-be models and actors - not by marketing them to clients looking for models and actors. The clients each paid about $395 for the photographs.

The would-be models and actors were lured with newspaper advertisements, typically under the heading "Models/Actors," the grand jury said. The ads said that "the area's fasting-growing agency is searching for all types and ages to represent for TV commercials, films, videos, and catalogue work. No experience or training required."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Tamara Jaycox Kessler said that at least 1,800 people in the area were defrauded by DuPont 's agencies between September 1988 and October 1991.

According to the indictment, the modeling agencies operated by DuPont were DuPont Model Management and DuPont Models Inc., both at 107 North 22d St. in Philadelphia; Metro Model Management and Casting Directories, both at 834 Chestnut St. in Philadelphia, and Moda Model Management of Marlton.

DuPont also operated agencies in Pittsburgh, Dallas, San Francisco, Cincinnati, Washington and New York City, according to the indictment.

In charging DuPont with contempt, the grand jury said DuPont had been enjoined by U.S. District Judge Norma L . Shapiro in December 1991 and January 1992 from conducting the fraudulent scheme. Nonetheless, the grand jury said, DuPont subsequently executed a similar fraudulent scheme in Chicago under the name of another agency.

"David DuPont defrauded consumers in Philadelphia, was ordered by a federal judge to stop the misrepresentations and then moved on to Chicago to do the same thing," Kessler said.

 

Philadelphia Inquirer, The (PA)

March 1, 1992

CASHING IN ON DREAMS IF YOU ASPIRE TO A CAREER IN ACTING AND MODELING, BE WARNED: NOT ALL AGENCIES CAN COME THROUGH FOR YOU.

Author: Rich Heidorn Jr., INQUIRER STAFF WRITER

Edition: FINAL
Section: FEATURES FAMILY / FASHION
Page: H01

Index Terms:
PROFESSION PROFILE INTERVIEW

Estimated printed pages: 8

Article Text:

Tomorrow's stars were streaming in every half-hour at the Metropolis agency: a 17-year-old boy who drove an hour and a half from Lehigh County
because his family needed money; a would-be stage mother who brought her 10- month-old daughter from Stroudsburg; a 21-year-old man from Northeast Philadelphia with bleached-blond hair and acne.

Metropolis' office is in the characterless Smyley-Times building on Roosevelt Boulevard, a thoroughfare not likely to be confused with Broadway or Seventh Avenue - or even Market Street.

Yet they came anyway, enticed by ads in The Inquirer and other newspapers claiming that they could earn $75 to $350 an hour as models or actors. "No exp. nec."

After a brief introduction to the business, the hopefuls were told to call back the next day to find out whether the agency would represent them. The chosen would be asked to pay $350 for photographs and inclusion in Metropolis' ''talent book."

In the meantime, in a waiting room decorated with photos of cover girls and boys, a receptionist was fielding phone calls. She told callers that Metropolis was submitting its talent to a New York company casting extras in Woody Allen's newest movie. "Maybe if you're lucky," she told one, "you'll get a speaking role."

Maybe not.

"I did receive (Metropolis') package - and it went right in the trash," said Judy Fixler, casting director at Todd Thaler Casting, which is working on the Allen film. "I don't know who they are. I don't deal with people I don't know."

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry doesn't know Metropolis, either. Although the agency has been open since September, co-owners Lise Calboutin and Patricia Miller have not applied for the required licenses, officials said.

Of more than 100 people that Metropolis has signed in the last six months, Calboutin named only three who had gotten paying jobs - one for a cable ad for a transmission dealer that paid about $50, another for a poster for Clover stores, another for a TV-station promo.

"I don't think being in business for such a short period of time (we) should be expected to have these huge accounts . . . ," Calboutin said. "In the last two months I have sent a lot of people out on auditions. I know a lot of agencies who do a lot less than I do."

*

Metropolis is one of several area agencies cashing in on the dreams of aspiring models and actors through ads that beckon with high-paying jobs.

Charles Tantum, chief regulator of employment and talent agencies for the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, has been watching such agencies come and go for 20 years.

He, along with established show business and modeling professionals, warns consumers to be wary of agencies that run newspaper ads or ask for hundreds of
dollars for pictures or classes. Established agencies make their income from commissions - usually 10 percent to 20 percent - on jobs they book for their talent.

In a consumer pamphlet, the Federal Trade Commission cautions: "If the modeling agency requires you to work with a particular photographer, chances are the photographer is working with the modeling agency and they are splitting the fee." An agency "may recommend that you work with a certain photographer, but be skeptical if they are insistent."

Some agencies, Tantum said, also run misleading ads suggesting that they have relationships with major advertisers or producers. "When Rocky V was filming at the Civic Center," he said, "these agencies were pointing to the fact that they sent people down" to be extras in the audience. "You didn't have to be sent by an agency. All you had to do was show up and if they had a seat they let you in."

Karisma Models and Promotions Inc. of Mount Laurel and Oxford Valley recently agreed to stop running ads suggesting that it was providing talent to MTV and Graco Children's Products of Elverson after the companies threatened legal action.

MTV spokeswoman Carol Robinson said that Karisma ran ads last June saying it was looking for dancers for the show Club MTV. "We go to clubs and look for kids on our own," she said.

Karisma manager Dexter Means said that the agency did not realize it was doing anything wrong and stopped using MTV's and Graco's names. But he added, ''we still are looking for people for MTV. They want us to send people for a show called Lip Sync."

MTV spokeswoman Cheryl Jones said that the show was called Lip Service, in which contestants compete by mimicking popular songs. MTV, she said, recruits people for the show itself at college campuses.

"We never go to agencies to find people because basically it's not that difficult," she said. "No one knows of this Dexter Means person and no one worked with him audience-wise or contestant-wise."

Similarly, Jerry Thacker, executive vice president for the Scepter Group, Graco's advertising firm, said that he did not use agencies when he was seeking babies for ads. Instead, Scepter runs an ad itself asking parents to send photographs of their children.

Means said that his agency represented more than 100 people. He would name only one company - Media Wizards, a Fort Washington firm that makes TV ads for 800- and 900-phone number services - that had hired his talent. Media Wizards producer John East said that he had hired two of Means' actors.

Ed Schub, 21, a Burlington County College student, said he had no illusions of appearing in GQ magazine when he paid Karisma $375 for photographs and one acting class last September. "All I wanted," he said, "was a little side money."

Schub said that he was told the photos would take two weeks to process, but he didn't receive them until nearly three months later, after complaining about the delays. He hasn't received any work and doubts he will.

"The lady (at Karisma) was the fastest-talking lady I ever met," Schub said. "She could talk without even breathing. When I signed the check, she grabbed it so fast . . . she smudged the ink. Right away, I just thought, 'What did I get myself into?' "

Means declined to say what efforts Karisma had made to find Schub work.

Means said that Karisma, which opened last March, needs to advertise to collect a pool of talent to offer to producers and casting agents. "If (producers) say we want twenty-five to thirty 35-to-40-year-olds, you better have a lot of people in your files," he said.

While Metropolis and Karisma ads indicate that they are seeking actors for commercials, Kathy Wickline and Michael Lemon, two top casting agents in Philadelphia, said they had never heard of either.

"As far as commercials go, the two of us probably cast between two-thirds and three-quarters of the commercials shot in the area," Lemon said. "If they're serious about getting their people work, it's inconceivable to me that they would not have contacted me or Kathy."

Calboutin, of Metropolis, said that some of her talent had been referred to Lemon through another agency. Means, of Karisma, said that he did not seek jobs through Lemon or Wickline because "the business isn't in Philadelphia, it's in New York." Karisma, he said, is advertising in the Madison Avenue Handbook, which is distributed to ad agencies and production people there.

Professionals recommend that aspiring actors seek representation by one of the eight agencies in the Philadelphia area sanctioned by the American Federation of Television, Radio and Film Artists and the Screen Actors Guild (AFTRA/SAG). Though agencies don't have to be union-franchised to be legitimate, Lemon said, it is through those affiliates that actors are likely to obtain the best-paying jobs.

One AFTRA/SAG agency, run by ex-model Mary Ann Claro, does advertise for talent. Claro operates the union-sanctioned Claro Modeling Agency in South Philadelphia and Claro Modeling Workshops in King of Prussia and Holland, Bucks County. The eight-week workshops cost from $199 to $390.

"We have to advertise because we never have enough people to fit the bills," Claro said. "Three weeks ago we (and other agencies) were all working on the same job and we couldn't fill it, for a black man or woman over 50 with theater training."

Wickline said that she occasionally called Claro for talent for commercials. "But they're advertising basically for their school."

*

Although they are not known to Philadelphia's major casting agents, Metropolis owners Calboutin and Miller are well-known to the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs.

Miller - who also uses the name Susan Schwartz - formerly operated Paramount Talent Agency in Cherry Hill. She gave up her interest to David L. DuPont in 1989, after New Jersey officials began investigating complaints that some consumers never got photos they had paid for. The state obtained about $3,500 in restitution, according to state regulator Tantum. Miller said that she quit Paramount because it was unprofitable.

DuPont owned agencies in South Jersey, Philadelphia and seven other cities between 1988 and 1990, when they closed their doors during an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC sued DuPont in December 1990, alleging that he charged thousands of customers $375 or more for photos but made virtually no effort to find them work.

In late January, a federal judge ruled in the FTC's suit, ordering DuPont to make $2.3 million in restitution to unhappy customers of his agencies.

Calboutin entered the talent agency business in 1990 when DuPont hired her as a receptionist for his New York agency. After the FTC filed suit, federal and New Jersey officials say, Calboutin opened two new agencies for DuPont - Moda Model Management in Mount Laurel and Metro Modeling in Philadelphia.

New Jersey officials revoked Calboutin's license to operate an agency in November, alleging that Moda had continued the misrepresentations of DuPont's earlier agencies. Calboutin said that although she was listed as president of both Moda and Metro, the agencies were run by DuPont . She said DuPont took advantage of her, promising that the new agencies would actually seek work for their talent.

Both agencies are now closed.

"I'm not going to try and sit here and preach to you that Metro and Moda were legitimate agencies," Calboutin said in an interview. "At the point where I thought it was becoming a fraud, I said to (DuPont), 'This is it. Get out,' and I locked the door. What I'm trying to do now is make it real."

ADVICE FOR WOULD-BE MODELS AND ACTORS

So, how can an aspiring model or actor get into the business, if not by responding to ads?

Philadelphia casting agents Kathy Wickline and Michael Lemon regularly hold open auditions for actors. Those with potential, they say, will be given a list of agents and managers whom the casting agents regularly call for talent. (Unlike managers and agents, casting directors are paid by production companies and earn no commissions from talent.)

"If they definitely don't have potential, then I won't encourage them," said Wickline. "If I think they have potential yet they need to be worked with, I will give them ideas where to take workshops," such as those at the Walnut Street Theater or Wilma Theater.

Lemon also recommends community or college theater or community- college acting classes.

Both say that classes offered by agencies are often of dubious value. ''Agencies that make their primary income from teaching classes - that means they're not making their primary income from getting bookings," Lemon said.

According to Wickline and Lemon, aspiring models and actors should not pay agencies for their photographs. "The appropriate procedure is for an agent to send talent to a photographer," Lemon said, "and then the talent pays the photographer."

An actor needs only a good black-and-white 8-by-10-inch photo with his or her resume, they said. A model needs a composite containing three different poses and vital statistics (height, weight, clothing sizes).

Added Lemon: "Never fall into the trap of having . . . professional baby pictures taken. There are several quote 'agents' who will sell a parent this $200, $400, $600 headshot deal for their babies. For babies, all we want are candid snapshots because babies change so quickly."

Professionals say that the best-paying jobs are generally available through the eight agencies in the area sanctioned by the American Federation of Television, Radio and Film Artists and the Screen Actors Guild (AFTRA/SAG). Ross Eatman, executive director of AFTRA/SAG's Philadelphia locals, warned of a recent scam in which fly-by-night "agents" collected union-initiation fees and failed to turn them over to the unions. Fees should be paid directly to the union, he said.

His final advice was "just to be aware - regardless of who they deal with. I want to put it right back in the consumers' lap. If somebody's asking them for what they feel is too much money, it's probably too much money."

FOR MORE INFORMATION

* Michael Lemon Casting holds open auditions from 1 to 4 p.m. Thursdays (except holidays) at its office on the third floor of the Actors Center, 1627 Walnut St. Call 215-557-0871.

* Walton-Wickline Casting holds open auditions about every other week. Call 215-629-1180 for schedule.

You can obtain a list of agencies franchised by the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists by sending a stamped, self-addressed envelope to AFTRA/SAG, 230 S. Broad St., 10th Floor, Philadelphia 19102.

Caption:

PHOTO (2)
1. Michael Lemon, a Center City casting agent, snaps photos of a group
auditioning for a commercial. Lemon says he and another local casting agent
cast most of the commercials shot in the area. (The Philadelphia Inquirer
/ ERIC MENCHER)
2. College student Ed Schub went to a modeling agency in hopes of making "a
little side money."

PHOTO

 

Philadelphia Inquirer, The (PA)

January 29, 1992

$2.3 MILLION REFUND ORDERED IN MODELING-AGENCY FRAUD

Author: Rich Heidorn Jr., INQUIRER STAFF WRITER

Edition: FINAL
Section: LOCAL
Page: B04

Index Terms:
COURT RULING SENTENCE PHILADELPHIA PA NJ CONSUMER FRAUD
PROBE

Estimated printed pages: 2

Article Text:

The operator of a series of fraudulent modeling agencies in Philadelphia and South Jersey has been ordered to pay $2.3 million in restitution to thousands of would-be models and actors, but officials say they do not know how much consumers would ultimately recover.

The Federal Trade Commission sued David L. DuPont in 1990, alleging that his agencies falsely promised to seek work for the hopefuls after luring them with newspaper ads and charging them $375 to $395 each for photographs.

The FTC said that DuPont 's agencies had no clients and did virtually nothing to promote their talent, that the photographs - when they were actually taken - merely sat in DuPont's file cabinets until the agencies threw them out for lack of space.

After a trial last month, U.S. District Judge Norma L. Shapiro of Philadelphia agreed with the FTC's allegations.

Shapiro's order - signed Jan. 22 and received by the FTC this week - also barred DuPont from operating any new modeling agency unless it receives most of its revenues from commissions on modeling work rather than fees for photos.

DuPont also is under criminal investigation by the U.S. Postal Inspector's Office, according to law enforcement sources.

DuPont , now believed to be living in New York, could not be reached for comment yesterday. In an interview several weeks ago, he said his agencies operated no differently from others that advertised in newspapers, and he insisted that he did find work for some talent.

Between 1988 and 1991, DuPont operated agencies in Cherry Hill, Mount Laurel, Philadelphia, Washington, Detroit, Dallas, San Francisco and New York under the names DuPont Model Management, Moda Model Management, Metro Modeling, Commercial People, Casting Directory and Cactus.

The FTC said DuPont 's agencies falsely claimed to have found its talent modeling jobs with Strawbridge & Clothier and Macy's department stores, among others, and acting jobs in rock videos and movies, including Rocky V.

The $2.3 million judgment represents what the FTC estimates DuPont's agencies received from consumers.

The FTC seized two Mercedes-Benzes and several thousand dollars in cash when it froze DuPont 's assets after filing suit. But FTC attorney Mamie Kresses said she did not know how much more the government would be able to collect for reimbursement to consumers.

"We do have complaints from several hundred, if not close to 1,000, consumers who are in our file," she said.

She said anyone who paid DuPont 's agencies and has not already notified the FTC should send the agency a letter at Sixth Street and Pennsylvania Avenue N.W., Room 238, Washington D.C. 20580.

DuPont said earlier that his profits were modest because of heavy newspaper advertising expenses.

 

Philadelphia Inquirer, The (PA)

December 17, 1991

MODELING AGENCIES GOT FAT ON FRAUD, FTC SAYS

Author: Rich Heidorn Jr., Inquirer Trenton Bureau

Edition: FINAL
Section: LOCAL
Page: A01

Article Text:

Mark Peterson is an average-looking guy whose most notable physical attribute is his missing front tooth.

But that wouldn't stop him from earning big money as a fashion model, the people at Moda Modeling Management in Mount Laurel told him in April. "You have a nice face," one of the "agents" flattered him.

Before he could begin his new career, Moda told Peterson, he would need $395 to have Moda's photographer shoot pictures for mailing to potential clients.

Peterson, who was earning $220 a week as a machinist, paid Moda the $395 in installments over three months. But before he ever got an appointment for his photo shoot, Moda closed its doors in September, leaving behind Peterson and hundreds of other unhappy would-be actors and models.

Officials of the Federal Trade Commission and the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs say Moda and a related Philadelphia agency called Metro - both owned by a 24-year-old Medford man, David L. DuPont - were not what they appeared.

While legitimate agencies make their money through commissions for finding work for their "talent," DuPont made his money simply by charging prospects for photographing them, authorities say.

The FTC said DuPont 's agencies falsely claimed to have found its talent modeling jobs with Strawbridge & Clothier and Macy's department stores, among others, and acting jobs in rock videos and movies, including Rocky V.

DuPont 's agencies neither had any clients nor did anything to promote their talent, FTC attorney Larry Hodapp said in an interview. The photographs - when they were actually taken - merely sat in DuPont's file cabinets until the agency threw them out for lack of space, authorities say.

The FTC says DuPont has taken $2.3 million from thousands of aspiring actors and models since 1988 at agencies in Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Washington, Detroit, Dallas, San Francisco and New York, in addition to Philadelphia and South Jersey.

DuPont says his agencies operated no differently from others that advertised in newspapers, and he insists that he did find work for some talent.

Last December, the FTC won an injunction in federal court in Philadelphia barring DuPont from misrepresenting his companies - which originally operated under the names Commercial People, Images, Talent & Model Management and DuPont Model Management - as modeling agencies that had jobs to offer.

But DuPont continued the scam, opening Metro and Moda and using an employee, Lise Calboutin, as a front, the FTC said. Calboutin was listed as president of the companies, and DuPont provided most of the financing and held majority interest, according to court records.

Calboutin does not dispute the government's assertions, but says she was taken advantage of by DuPont . "At the point where I thought it was becoming a fraud, I said to (DuPont ), 'This is it. Get out,' and I locked the door," Calboutin said.

On Dec. 2, U.S. District Judge Norma L. Shapiro found DuPont in contempt of court for violating the 1990 injunction and enjoined him from any involvement in the modeling business.

Shapiro ruled after a two-day hearing last month in which the FTC presented testimony from DuPont 's unhappy consumers. "There is nothing that I have heard that indicates that a single company has hired, engaged, paid or used one of your models or talent," Shapiro told DuPont at the conclusion of the hearing.

The FTC now is seeking restitution. But because the FTC found only a few thousand dollars and two Mercedes when it froze DuPont 's corporate assets last
December, consumers would be likely to get only a small portion of what they paid.

Charles Tantum, who has been investigating such schemes for 20 years for the New Jersey Consumer Affairs Division, says consumers lost $139,000 at Moda alone, far more than will be covered by the agency's $10,000 bond.

In a televised interview made before Shapiro's contempt finding, DuPont said he had no intention of paying restitution or of quitting.

"What can they do?" DuPont said mockingly of the FTC. "I'll just keep changing the names of the agency."

But representing himself last month in Shapiro's paneled, high-ceiling courtroom (DuPont and his attorney split over a financial dispute) DuPont seemed as nervous as a schoolchild in the principal's office.

In an interview during a break in the hearing, he insisted he had found work for some of his models and complained that he was being unfairly singled out by the government.

"If everyone was banned from the industry - since they're doing the exact same thing - I would stop," he said.

*

DuPont found his would-be stars through classified ads - published in everything from The Inquirer and the Washington Post to the Elmer Times, a small weekly in Salem County - claiming models could earn $75 to $350 an hour.

A former DuPont employee, Joseph Willihnganz of Roanoke, Va., told authorities that DuPont 's agencies would agree to represent virtually anyone who walked in.

Once, a "DuPont sales agent assured a single mother, recently unemployed and living in a homeless shelter, that there was work for her if she just got her photographs," the FTC wrote in a motion to the court.

The FTC says DuPont even rejected jobs when unsolicited work came his agency's way. Last year, Willihnganz recalled, DuPont brushed off a phone call from someone seeking two actors for a television commercial. "Mr. DuPont said . . . that the agency does not have time for that sort of thing," Willihnganz said.

Lisa Click, 26, of Elmer, said Moda misled her with promises that she could earn lots of money as an actor.

"The only people who make that are union people," she said. "A nonunion person like myself will only make $40 or $50 a day and you can work 12 hours a day."

To get union work for its talent, an agency must be sanctioned by the Screen Actors Guild or the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. A spokesman for the unions said they never sanctioned the agencies run by DuPont.

"We've been in business 14 years and we've never advertised for models," said Mary Beth Noll, president of the Reinhard Agency, a union-sanctioned agency in Philadelphia. "Any of the big leaguers in New York or California will tell you the same thing. The legitimate agencies don't have to advertise. And (they) don't charge people $300 or $500 for pictures. That's the first tip-off that something's wrong."

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