Crimes of Persuasion

Schemes, scams, frauds.

John Casablancas Modeling School

To Whom It May Concern:

I just joined John Casablancas a couple of weeks ago and I am just starting to notice what they are doing.

I don't know if I should keep taking the classes. They are not giving me the classes I'm supposed to receive, and when they do teach, they don't teach me enough for what I'm paying per class. They don't even teach me what I need to learn. They just sit there.

Can you please tell me what to do or give me some advice, because I'm paying a lot for nothing. I know I have the talent; I just don't know where to go to perfect it and not be scammed.

Thank you,


To Whom It May Concern:

I recently enrolled in the John Casablancas school in Illinois.

When I called there, I asked them if they worked with models who did not attend their school, because I felt that I did not need a school to be successful.

A man there told me that they did, but he needed to meet me to determine whether or not I needed the classes. He told me that he wanted me to come there for two days just to do a class on posing and runway, and on the second day we would do my photo shoot and get my comp cards done. The total cost would be about $900.

I told him I thought that was kind of expensive for classes I didn't need, and he said the reason I was paying so much was for the pictures, not the classes. He also told me that he would be using me at least twice a month for modeling jobs, because he was hiring 14 new girls who would be very busy.

When I called him to ask if they were doing my hair and makeup for the pictures, he said no; the point of the class was to teach me to do it myself. I would think for that much money they would at least do my makeup.

Well, I later found out that all of the money I would be paying was just for the classes. They offer a free photo shoot when you pay in full. I also found out that they are not an agency, and they cannot get me jobs. They can only offer placement assistance and possibly get me signed with their affiliate agency (MTM).

Everything he told me was a lie! I would also have to pay extra to get my slides, negatives, prints, and comp cards, which would cost another couple hundred dollars.

Luckily they only got my $100 deposit, which I will not be able to get back.

I wonder how many girls fall for this. The only way to be a successful model is to go directly to a real AGENCY with photos to see if they will accept you. MODELING SCHOOLS ARE A BIG WASTE OF MONEY. DON'T TRUST THE PEOPLE WHO WORK AT MODELING SCHOOLS.


To Whom It May Concern:

I am a 13-year-old aspiring actress/model. I have been interested in acting since kindergarten when I did my first play. Around two years ago I became interested in modeling.

Last weekend I was with my cousin at the mall, Wolfchase Galleria, in Memphis, TN. I was approached by a scout who looked to be in her early twenties.

She asked my cousin and I if we were interested in modeling and acting. She told me a little about the company she was working for, John Casablancas.

I decided to fill out the card just for the fun of it. I put my name, age, and phone number on the card.

Two days later, I was called in for an "audition." I went there and found out I was auditioning along with about 20 other hopefuls, ranging in age from nine to late thirties.

We all had to walk the runway and tell a little about ourselves and smile so they could see our pearly whites.

After we had all done this, the director (who shall remain nameless) told us a little about the company. She explained how 95% of all of her models moved on to bigger and better things, and only 5% "fell through the cracks."

She said she guaranteed all of her models jobs. She said she would get 15% from the models' salaries. She told us she would call back five from the group. If we didn't get a call back in 48 hours, we weren't chosen.

The next day when I was doing homework my mom received a phone call. She kept smiling at me, but she wouldn't tell me who it was.

After she had hung up, she explained how I had gotten a call back and I would need to be at John Casablancas by 5:30 pm. It was an hour from where I lived. So I would have to leave by 4:30, but I was also staying after school for an academic program, which I'd have to cut short, to make my call back.

When we arrived, I passed by another young lady whom I remembered from the audition as she came from the office. I wasn't surprised because she was very pretty and had previous modeling experience.

I had gotten there about 15 minutes early, but they agreed to see me. I had to bring a snapshot with me. After waiting for about 25 minutes, the director, who I'll refer to as R., called me into her office.

She began to ask me questions, some of which I thought were a little... odd.

"If you get rejected from an audition, would you be willing to go to another?"

"Yes," I answered reluctantly.

"And what about a third audition, if you were rejected from the second?"

Again I answered, "Um, sure."

After a few more minutes of questions like that, she started to comment on me. She told me I had gorgeous lips, I was so tiny, and I would make a perfect runway model.

Then she asked me if I was more interested in acting or modeling. I told her acting. She was a little disappointed, and told me she'd put me in modeling anyway.

Next she began to describe the company. She told me, "Now, you are a very pretty young lady, but I have to warn you: Don't come here with stars in your eyes: I can't guarantee you jobs."

Didn't she tell me the complete opposite a few days earlier?!

"And trust me, you will need to be refined a little before I can put you out. That's where the modeling classes come in."

Oh, no. Immediately my mom asked, "Exactly how much will they cost?" My mama always gets straight to the point.

R. pulled out a few sheets of paper, and began to describe the costs: "Well, if you pay in full, it'll only cost approximately $1,700."


"But we do have payment plans. With the payment plans, because of interest, it'll cost around $2,000."

My mom gave me that look I immediately understood. We wouldn't be able to afford them. I knew it. But it didn't really bother me. We had just moved here, and my dad was the only one working. We weren't struggling, but we just couldn't fit modeling classes into the plan.

R. kept pressuring us about the classes and payment plans. My mother politely told her that she'd have to think about it, and give her a call later. Which I knew meant there would be no classes for me.

We said a brief farewell. On the way out, while returning to our car, I passed three other hopefuls from the other day, and another on her way in. Including me, that made six from the other day, and who knows how many from earlier. I guess John Casablancas wasn't as selective as previously mentioned.

I was a little disappointed and hurt. My mom was mad. She started fussing about how they could have mentioned the classes at the audition, etc., etc.

Today is Friday; the classes start tomorrow; and I don't think I'll be joining anytime soon.

While I was asleep today, my mom got a call from my brother in Jacksonville, where a John Casablancas office is located. He explained how his friend had gotten involved in JC, but he had never gotten a job, and lost all his money he had invested in the classes.

I figured it was just a rumour, but after helping my mom type a resume, I decided to go online and do a little "research." I typed in "John Casablancas modeling" in the Google search engine.

It listed a few JC websites where you could learn about modeling classes. I was about to exit, but decided to scroll down a little more, and that's how I found this website.

After reading the letter by R.B., and seeing how much it resembled my own experience, I read the letter aloud to my mother and her friend.

My mom said she was going to call the BBB about JC.

I decided to write this message. I just wanted to tell my story and let people know to be a little careful with John Casablancas.

Hopefully, you will post this email from a 13-year-old aspiring actress, who is disappointed after her encounter with John Casablancas.

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you.


To Whom It May Concern:

I just wanted to give some advice regarding John Casablanca Modeling and Career Centers based on my own personal experience.

I took their Plus-Size TV / Print class in Brookfield, WI. I met a lot of great people and had a lot of fun.

The result was a few modeling jobs, no promises, of course. I was one of the tallest in the class, so I did get a few more jobs than the other girls. However, I just wasn't getting any big jobs.

Ironically, none of the students I spoke with seemed to be getting any big jobs, either (regardless of their size, race, age, etc...).

Around the same time, we all began to notice the director of the school on in-store advertisements, billboards, and in ads.

After asking one of our instructors, it turns out that the director, regardless of her position, has first dibs on any jobs that come in.

Our instructor said this is true for any of the agency staff. They all see the jobs first. Our instructor said: "Don't tell anyone, but we can eliminate any portfolios we feel would be competition."

I wish I would have known this before I signed up. It's good to ask if the staff (including the director) compete with students for modeling jobs.

And, if they do compete for jobs, how is the portfolio selection made for the customer? Is there a diverse range of faces and experience in the pile, or is it a pile of staff portfolios?

Although I would naturally think this is bad work ethic, it obviously does happen (the proof stared at me from an in-store wall ad at a department store as I shopped for an outfit for my final pictures at John Casablanca!).

Just something to keep in mind when you hand over a check for $1,500 with a promise that you or your child has "what it takes." If you truly have "what it takes" to be a great model, your picture may not be in the pile of potentials.


To Whom It May Concern:

I am new to modeling, so I am presently looking at an agency called John Casablancas in Tampa. I have heard little negative about them.

I do want to know if you would happen to have any information on them. They charge for classes and quite a lot, too.

John Casablancas works with Elite. They are the biggies, JC says.

If you have anything I might look at, completely backable facts I can find, I'd like to read it, and see your sources about them.

Like I said I'm new, but I would pay for it, not my parents, and I'm unsure where to look.



You said John Casablancas in Tampa is an agency. Is that a fact? Do they have an agency license?

The BBB file for the only John Casablancas in Tampa, Florida, said: "This company offers modeling, acting & personal development."

Is it a school or an agency?

John Casablancas Modeling & Career Centers
5215 W Laurel St Ste 110
Tampa, FL 33607

The BBB record also said: "Additional Doing-Business-As Names: Community Vocational Schools Of Florida, Inc." Sounds like a school!

But then it also had another name under the same category: "John Casablancas Modeling Agency, Inc."

You have got to be careful. There is a difference between modeling schools and modeling agencies. There are modeling agencies which are modeling agencies and modeling schools (school is free), and there are modeling schools (you have to pay) which are not modeling agencies.

Any time you pay money up front you are at risk of being scammed. Does the JC in Tampa require upfront payments? Or is payment due after you get work, taken from your first paycheck?

You said: "I have heard little negative about them." Have you done much research? Have you read any JC letters on this website? Have you checked usenet?

Why not call Elite in New York? Get the facts you need to know. It is easy to get their number. Ask them if they run modeling schools in New York, or if they train their models free.

If Elite says they train their models free, then ask them if a model must be trained at a school (John Casablancas) and graduate before they will sign them.

Don't you find it interesting that contestants for Elite's annual contest, Look of the Year, do not require modeling school (John Casablancas) attendance or graduation?

(You can check with Elite during your phone call; the last thing I read about their contest said nothing about a modeling school.)

Also ask Elite if they require modeling school (John Casablancas) attendance or graduation to consider potential models outside their annual Look of the Year competition.

To summarize, to get the facts, the questions to ask Elite in New York are:

1. Do you run modeling schools in New York?
2. Do you train your models free?
3. Is modeling school required to enter the Look of the Year competition?
4. Is modeling school required to get signed and represented by Elite?

Based on their answers you should be able to figure out what to do. What Elite says it does is worth a lot more than what JC says it does.

Redacted Info

To Whom It May Concern:

When I attended an open call for a modeling company, I was so ecstatic to hear that they liked me.

They would spend five minutes with each person, who had to show their pictures, and tell them a little about themselves. The company would then rate each person, A, B, or C:

A = eligible for company representation, meaning WORK
B = eligible for classes at the agency
C = not interested at the moment

So the next day they called me back, wanting to talk a little more about the business. The lady gave me an A rating, meaning I would most likely get real modeling work over the next year.

She even told me the company would cover the costs of my photographs. So, I thought I was in, and they really liked my look.

I go in for a photo session, get pictures done, and then they asked me for $1,000 up front if I wanted to go any further with this process.

Later on I was told that the $1,000 was going towards beneficial classes which would help a lot in the business, and look stellar on a resumé.

So I figured it was beneficial and went along with it. The $1,000 included pictures monthly, in addition to classes for five months.

Well, I wouldn't use the word "beneficial" for these classes. The quality was low, and the pictures taken appeared unprofessionally done.

I was very disappointed, because the company, John Casablanca's Modeling and Career Center, promised me work in the first place, and didn't mention any up front payments, and secondly, with the $1,000 I didn't get anything to my benefit.

It's been almost two years since that open call day, and I have gotten no work from them, and haven't heard from them since they took my money.

I hope other aspiring models know that if any agency asks for massive amounts of money up front, it's a scam, no question about it.

I am still pursuing modeling, and still want to become a model, but now I am even more aware and alert.


To Whom It May Concern:

I signed up with the John Casablanca Modeling and Career Center. It is required with them to make the full payment of $1,600 before you graduate from their modeling school.

So I made my full payment before I graduated, but now they have sent my case to the collectors claiming that I haven't paid.

Please help me. Any information or advice will be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,



Do you have receipts? Did John Casablancas not give you a receipt when you paid? If you paid by credit card or check, your bank or credit card company should be able to help you provide proof of payment(s), and it would then be easy to resolve this matter.

Full payment for the John Casablancas modeling school should not be due until after you get work, but that's another story. But they like upfront fees because it presents no financial risk, and for them it's money in the bank. Reputable agencies provide model training FREE.

Redacted Info

To Whom It May Concern:

I looked at your site because my daughter, who is 12, is interested in modeling.

I was shocked to find out that after all these years, John Casablancas Centers are STILL doing what they did to me 18 years ago!

In 1984, when I was 15, I sent some pictures  to Elite in New York.

Elite then contacted my mother, and told her to call one of their "branch offices" in Louisville, Kentucky.

The director of the Louisville office told me that John Casablancas HIMSELF was interested in me, and wanted me to spend the winter taking modeling courses, so that I could come work in New York the following summer.

My mother spent a lot of money on these courses based on this promise.

Every time I saw the director, she would tell me that she and John had just been talking about me, and he couldn't wait to meet me in person.

I took very ridiculous classes in how to put on makeup and how to walk. After I "graduated" from this freak school, John Casablancas did in fact come to Louisville, and the director, Donna Mason, said he was coming to meet ME.

When I showed up for the meeting, there was a lobby full of about a hundred faces who were also going to meet John.

As I talked with other people, I found out they had been told the same thing I was told. I was absolutely flabbergasted and embarrassed.

When I met with John, after being told continuously for eight months prior to this that he was going to whisk me away to New York, I found out during the meeting that he didn't even know my name, had never seen my picture, and had never discussed me going to New York with Donna Mason.

He told me that I needed to get experience doing some local modeling (in Louisville, Kentucky?? Please!), and that he would see me next year, on his next visit.

I couldn't believe it. It crushed my self esteem. Not only did I feel unattractive, but I felt very stupid. My mother had told her friends and all our relatives that I was going to spend the summer in New York modeling.

Friends at school then made fun of me and said I had lied. I thought maybe I was too fat (I was young and developing, I was not fat), and, as a result, this was the start of an eating disorder and self-esteem issues that lasted years.

I know it sounds insane that after my experience I would want my daughter to get into modeling. But I have a cousin who modeled for 14 years doing national commercials and was on the cover of Italian Vogue... I know there are legitimate agencies out there, it's just a matter of finding them.

I can't believe John Casablancas is still in business. What a shame.


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