Crimes of Persuasion

Schemes, scams, frauds.

John Casablancas Modeling School

To Whom It May Concern:

I must admit, I am sitting here feeling slightly sick after reading bash after bash upon a company for which I have worked for the past six years.

I have worked in every aspect of my state center's field, but have been instructing for the last four years.

I wanted to say at least a few words in defense of my center and the work that we do there.

First and foremost, it is important to realize that John Casablancas is a school. It is not an agency, although it does have the local MTM agency affiliate. It is a training center.

I personally discussed this with all of my potentials while in admissions and again with my students as an instructor.

I am a 'specialty' instructor at the center. I instruct the Preteen Division, the Plus Ladies Division, and Women 25 and Over.

Luckily for me, for all the discouraging letters I've seen here tonight, I have received dozens of personal letters from former students thanking me for helping them to better themselves.

I recently had a teary visit from a single dad, thanking me for helping his preteen daughter into her adolescence, and a beautiful letter from a surgical nurse who was in my Wednesday night Ladies 25 and Over class.

I definitely am not in my job for the money; trust me, the instructors don't get paid much. Believe me again when I say most of the people that I've had come into my class on day one definitely needed to be there.

It never ceases to amaze me how many people (regardless of age) don't know how to get through a basic job interview, put together a proper resumé, or realize the extreme importance of a first impression.

And for those who still want to believe modeling is all about looks, ask a professional photographer, or client, for that matter, with whom he would rather work:

1) a fantastically beautiful model who comes to a shoot ten minutes late, disorganized and full of herself, who would rather spend the expensive company time discussing her own personal likes and dislikes; or,

2) a girl not quite as beautiful who is on time, well prepared and gets the job done.

Modeling is such a competitive field. John Casablancas is meant to be a tool to help you prepare and help make the best presentation possible. It is not an employment agency.

It is important to me, as an instructor, that each and every one of my students leaves my five-month program a better and more polished person.

It is not my goal that they model. Some of my graduates have had great success in the local market and told me how well prepared they felt.

Other graduates haven't modeled at all, but have landed better jobs or are more polished for their current jobs.

If it were up to me, I would incorporate some of the curriculum into local high schools.

I discuss with my classes the importance of not stereotyping and keeping business tasks separate from personal likes and dislikes.

Appearance and grooming is about only 50% of my class and it still amazes me that some 40-year-old women don't know the first thing about basic skincare and walk around in frosted blue eyeshadow with liner half an inch thick!

I feel very sad reading some of the letters on here from people who said they've been lied to by staff members of my organization. I would never crush a young girl's hopes by promising her a modeling job after the classes end.

What I tell them instead in Session 1 is that I am there to help them present themselves to the world in the very best possible light and have the confidence to go on, even after a rejection or two.

I am glad to have visited the site; it will just make me that much more determined to make sure all of my students are getting their money's worth in confidence, basic skills, and self-presentation, if not a modeling career.

A dedicated JC instructor,


"Good hands alone, do not a surgeon make. Good looks alone, do not a model make."

To Whom It May Concern:

I went to John Casablanca for six months.

When I first applied they told me that they would get us a job. So I wanted to go, and my mother thought it was a good idea.

So we paid $1,900 plus $300 up front for the photo shoots.

For the photo shoots we had to do our own hair and makeup. They do not have a studio; we used to have to take pictures outside in the cold.

Then, at the end, after you graduate, they send an agency there, and then the agency tells you that you must have clear skin and you have to be tall.

I'm short so we wasted our time and money.

When I went to an agency in New York City, they told me that my portfolio was not professional, and, if I wanted to be in the agency, I had to get a whole new portfolio.

So, girls and guys, don't fall for the John Casablanca modeling school.


To Whom It May Concern:

I recently visited your site and thought it was excellent; it's one of the only sites out there with in-depth information.

I have a question...

Recently at my school we held a career fair with reps from John Casablancas attending. They took headshots of any students interested. They took one of me, and, surprisingly, I got called in for a meeting to discuss further programs in the industry.

Now, not all students who had a picture taken got called in, so in my eyes they must have seen some potential in me.

I went to the one-on-one meeting with my parents, and was told about what the company does and such.

The rep told me it would be in my best interests to start off with the acting industry, and possibly later on move onto modeling.

She recommended a program which cost CDN$995 for a three-month course.

Should I be leary of a scam? Knowing that this was not a mass casting call?

I am an Asian male, and they emphasized how males in my age range and ethnicity are in demand. I am 17, by the way.

The most attractive thing about taking this course is she mentioned we get to meet with Sean, an agent with all the connections.

Now she didn't promise any further jobs; she just said we take it as far as we want to.

I am hesitant to sign up and pay the large fee. It would be appreciated if you could give me any advice.

Thank you,



The first thing you would probably need to know is the rep is (most likely) paid by commission. She may only get paid if you sign up. The more people who she gets to sign up, the more she makes.

That may not seem like a big deal, but it is the opposite of how the industry works: talent agents make their income after the actor works. Thus there is no incentive to tell people what they want to hear.

Why did they recommend you for acting? Based on a headshot? What about acting? Did you read a script?

What are the qualifications of the JC representative? Is the rep not even a talent agent?

You didn't say you had any experience (e.g. high school or college) acting, or that you were interested in acting.

What are they offering at their school? Is it acting classes? You didn't say. Please elaborate. Until now letters about JC said they only offered modeling or charm classes, not acting classes.

Redacted Info

To Whom It May Concern:

For some time I have been interested in taking a "personal improvement" course at John Casablancas.

I have not decided to take the next step because the cost of the course is somewhat high ($1,250 for 10 weeks).

After seeing the letters on your website, I am even more skeptical than I was before.

Can you please let me know if it is safe to go and take the course? If not, are there any other places where it is safe to go and take a similar course (makeup application, skin management, wardrobe, etc.)?

Thank you for your time.



Is your only goal self-improvement, not to become a model?

Redacted Info

Yes, my only goal is self-improvement. I have no interest in becoming a model. I just want to learn how to put on makeup, accessorize, etc.



In that case, JC may be the best thing going. You'll have to shop around (ask people in your city) if there are alternatives which are better and/or cheaper.

Find out more about the teachers at JC to figure out if they are competent. Each JC has different teachers; some are better than others.

Redacted Info

To Whom It May Concern:

I agreed to take the classes with John Casablancas, being too excited about what they were telling me to look past all of the fancy pictures hanging in the office.

I took classes when I was 12 years old, and it never amounted to anything.

Then I moved to another state and immediately looked for agencies.

I found out that John Casablancas was having an audition and I went.

I got called back, but they told me I wasn't "agency ready," so I should take these classes.

So I started the classes, and I started making the payments ($100 a month for 15 months, $1,500 total).

But after I took a few of the classes, I realized I knew all of the information.

I am 18 years old, and I am in school for Skin Care, and these people are telling me how to do makeup and wash my face —and I am paying them? No thank you!

Is there any way that I can get out of it? What can I do?

Please help.



I think someone already said they pulled out of the classes.

You'll have to review the terms and conditions of whatever paperwork you signed. It is probably not a contract like a model contract with an agency, but you still need to read it carefully.

You may just have to say, "I have realized these classes aren't for me." People must drop out of there classes, from time to time, because they get sick, or for whatever reason.

You appear to be in the fortunate position of not having paid $1,500 up front, so they don't have your money. Also, you have paid for what you have received, so you are not in debt, right?

Hopefully, they will be reasonable and let you quit. But if they are difficult, what can they do if you stop going? If it can't affect your credit rating, it may be easy to quit.

You can continue on your search for an agency. Find an agency, not a school. Find an agency that does not charge you for classes, but trains its models FREE!

Redacted Info

To Whom It May Concern:

My son was approached by John Casablancas Modeling and Career Center here in Atlanta, GA.

I'm very concerned because they are charging $1,750 for training (one-time cash fee) or $2,107.95 if we make payments.

We decided to do the payment at an 18% interest rate, meaning our payments will be $128.53 a month.

We also had to pay $280 up front for books and $100 for supplies and $180 for registration fees.

They said because he is new and has never modeled before he needs training. The training is for five months every other weekend. During these five months there will be 20 Sessions.

John Casablancas Modeling and Career Center also told me that they own Elite Model Agency.

Today I called Elite and they said that they were no longer owned by John Casablancas. This is another reason why I am concerned.

I also called other agencies today just to see if they would be able to use my son. Everyone told me that my son is far too short: he is 15 and 5'3." They said that as a 15-year-old he is considered an adult.

So if he is too short for everyone else including Elite, how can John Casablancas use him?

Can you help me with some of these questions?

Do you know anything about this model agency? Do you think that is too much to pay for them to train him? Elite also said that they didn't charge their models anything to be trained.

Concerned Mother,



It is good to read you did what many others never did. You called the right people to check out the company's claims. Calling not only Elite but also other modeling agencies was a good idea.

Your last comment is really all you need to know: "Elite also said that they didn't charge their models anything to be trained."

Here you have one of the leading modeling agencies in America and the world producing the top models in the world and they don't make them pay for training. There is a clue in there somewhere.

You don't have to pay for training to get signed by a top agency or to become a top model: I wonder if John Casablancas Modeling and Career Center teaches their students this fact during the first class!

You said: "John Casablancas Modeling and Career Center also told me that they own Elite Model Agency."

This is not true and never was true. If anything the exact opposite was true. John used to own Elite (he started Elite). Then he started modeling schools. Then these schools were franchised. So they used the John Casablancas name, but he did not really own them.

There are still lots of JC franchises all over America. How many of them try to milk the name for all it's worth?

The problem with the John Casablancas Modeling and Career Centers business model is a clear and significant conflict of interest which puts every consumer at financial risk. This is why there are laws against this sort of thing in some states.

John Casablancas Modeling and Career Centers are effectively paid up front to get as many people as possible to sign up for classes.

But this is in fact the exact opposite of how the modeling industry works. Agencies are not paid up front and only make their money by commissions, not classes, and this includes Elite.

The BBB said most agencies are like Elite: they do not charge for classes.

JC is likely to be overselective in their recruiting of students for classes, because they are paid up front. Your son appears to be the result of overselecting by JC.

I'm afraid Elite and the other agencies are correct about your son. He is far too short for a male model and too short even by top female model standards (at least 5'8").

If you have concluded your son is not model material, just by the industry standards for measurements, not looks, it would make sense to try and get your money back, wouldn't it? Or at least stop further payments and the bleeding of your bank account.

Why don't you call JC and tell them what Elite said. See how they try to get their way out of that! Tell them they can call Elite themselves if they don't believe you. Provide the phone number if they don't have it.

You can even say several other modeling agencies said the same thing as Elite. (Maybe JC needs to go to a class which explains the measurements of people who are model material.)

That fact in and of itself should lead them to grant you a refund. If they do not, however, present the same facts to the BBB, and register a formal complaint against JC.

You could also add you were misled into believing John Casablancas Modeling and Career Centers own Elite.

You know you should ask JC one question: if Elite in New York does not charge its models for classes, and gives them training free, what is it that JC classes offer which Elite does not offer which is so important and so valuable that it costs $1,750?

Your last question was: "Do you think that is too much to pay for them to train him?" If all the others like Elite do not charge for training, anything more than free is too expensive.

Redacted Info

Thanks for all your help.

I contacted John Casablancas last night before I received your email. I canceled the agreement and was told to write a letter and send it in.

Then the director called me back and told me to stop payment on my check, because it might go through. He said it was out of his hands, that he had sent it to the corporate office. Anyway, I did the stop payment and I'm faxing the letter today.

Thanks again for all your help.


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