Prestige Modeling and Talent
Questions / Complaints
To Whom It May Concern:
I'm 16 and I live in Manchester, NH.
There's a new agency in my town. Everyone says they
get you jobs fast and that it is not a school. They say
the only thing you pay for is the pictures. They do your
hair and makeup for free. Any training you need is free.
The name of the agency is Prestige Modeling
and Talent Agency.
Yesterday I went in.
They told me I am beautiful and set up an appointment
to take my pictures. They told me I have to pay $150
down, $250 the day of the shoot, and $200 when I get
the pics back. The total is $600.
They said after that I'd definitely get a job.
They also said $600 is nothing compared to what I'm
going to make.
They get 25% of what I earn and I get 75%.
That's all they said to me. Then they told me to call
them if I was interested.
I don't know if I should go for it, or if it's a scam.
If I do go for it and pay for pictures, I'm going to
have to work for the money and take the money from the
money I had saved to go to Florida to visit my older
Is it worth it, or is it just a scam?
What is their website address?
The physical address, according to the BBB, is:
Prestige Modeling & Talent Agency
1181 Elm St Suite
Manchester, NH 03101
There are no complaints at the Bureau. But you said
they are new, so you can't read too much into the BBB
record. It can take a while for problems to surface in
Since you said you are in Manchester, New Hampshire,
I thought you might want to shop around, so I checked
a directory to see what else is out there. Two companies
were listed, both with a web address, so I checked them
Both are listed at the BBB, and both are classified
as modeling schools. One is clearly a finishing school;
the other offers workshops, etc., and is tied in to a
So it's difficult to recommend them as being better
options than Prestige.
Prestige, you said, does not have schools. This is a
good sign. Hair and makeup, you said, is free. Another
good sign. Free training is also a good sign.
However... there are a few things which look suspicious.
It is possible Prestige is making their money from photography.
There should be a clear line between modeling jobs and
photography. In this case, based on the information you
provided, there isn't.
The test usually recommended to try and discern if the
company is reputable in this regard is to find out if
the agency will let you choose which photographer you
want to take your pictures.
If they require theirs, "You must use our photographer," it
could be because that is how they make money.
Setting it up as you told it where they want a downpayment
could indicate they are trying to pressure a commitment.
The total price for photos is not extreme. But what
is the quality like? They may only be worth $200. Did
they offer to let you see photos the photographer has
Taking a 25% commission is on the high side; 20% or
lower is more common.
Telling you that you would "definitely" get
work sounds almost like a promise. Making promises of
work can be illegal. How do they know you will definitely
get work if: 1) you have not been tested to see how you
photograph; 2) you have not worked for a client; and,
3) they don't choose who gets work?
Saying the photo expense "is nothing compared to
what you are going to make" sounds like a typical
scam sales pitch; at least scam companies use this line.
(I recently heard it was used by the biggest scouting
scam in American history.)
There is a modeling photography scam which charges the
same price as what you were told. They make money from
photos, not jobs, even though they are called an agency,
and they make it sound like you will get work.
Just quickly, the way a modeling photography scam works
is the company charges you to get your pictures making
promises you will get work, or saying you will, and tells
you about all the money you are going to make, but you
don't. So you make no money, lose all you paid for pics;
and you can't get your money back.
The bottom line with Prestige is you need to do more
research. Check the work of their photographer, ask for
his website address, and ask if you can use another photographer.
Also ask for references so you can speak with their
models or clients. They should understand because you
are new to modeling and they are new to the city.
The website is prestige-modeling.com.
The agency only has two owners who do everything. They
said they were models for 14 years.
They showed me what the pics look like. They include
the agency's name and the model's info. They looked nice.
The weird thing is that's all they told me. They told
me to call them if I was interested. I'd think they would
talk about their agency, but they didn't.
I'm definitely going to take your advice and ask them
about their photographer.
Thank you so much. You helped me a lot.
Can you please check out their website and tell me what
The website said:
- Prestige Modeling helps aspiring models search for
potential jobs and provides intensive training for
a wide range of specialties, including print, commercial,
runway, promotional, acting, and pageantry. Self-enhancement
workshops are also taught, which cover money management,
self-confidence, job interviewing, public speaking,
etiquette, and personal appearance. (Call for details
on the backgrounds of each professional we use.)
So they are doing training. Although they did not list
prices, it does not sound free. The finishing school
type of training they offer seems very similar to the
other two previously mentioned "modeling agencies" in
You said: "I'd think they would talk about their
agency, but they didn't."
The website shows no tear sheets and there is no mention
of anyone getting any work. You have to think work is
the strongest selling point, and what everyone wants
If you were running a company and you had helped people
find work modeling, why wouldn't you tell everyone? Why
would you keep it off the company website?
The photographer is important but more important is
how many models if any of them got work, and how much,
and what they were paid.
The experience the owners have is all well and good,
and they seem like nice enough people, but it does not
guarantee they can get anyone work.
Manchester could be the problem. There are very few
modeling agencies in Manchester, NH, from the sound of
things. There's probably a reason for that: there is
not much demand?
The important issue is how long it would take to make
more money from modeling than you paid for pictures.
Not all modeling pays really well.
FYI, their website domain was "Created on 15-Mar-2002," so
they look new.
Thank you for your help.
Can you recommend any other agencies I can contact to
check out if they are for real or not?
And what can you recommend for someone who genuinely
wants to pursue a career in modeling? Are there other
agencies in the area you would recommend?
And what about an acting career since they often go
hand in hand? Who could I contact?
How about I call Oprah?!!! (Just kidding!)
If there aren't many agencies in the Manchester Yellow
pages, you could try visiting the nearest large city
where there is demand for modeling.
What city would that be?
To Whom It May Concern:
Earlier this year I was walking around in a local mall
near my town, and some girls approached me.
They asked me if I had ever modeled before, and I said, "Yes,
I have modeled before."
Then they asked me to meet up with their managers, etc.
So I made an appointment.
Anyways, I ended up spending $600 on a photo shoot where
they said I would get quick jobs, and since I'm so tall,
everyone was going to want me for runway.
About a month later, I went to see my pictures and they
were taken on film that could be developed at a CVS.
I was embarrassed.
Anyway, they picked a few out and said they would make
a cover sheet for me, and send them out to get jobs.
Well, that was four months ago, and they have neither
returned any of my phone calls, nor have I seen anything
of my cover sheets.
So tonight I went online to look up their web page,
and I saw a thing under Modeling Scams for Prestige Modeling
in Manchester, NH, and the story written by the 16-year-old
girl, well, that is exactly what happened to me.
I guess I'm writing to be heard and to ask for help.
Can you visit their office? If your phone calls are
not returned, you should try to visit the office. Take
someone with you if you want.
Also contact the BBB since they may have a good idea
about what you could do, or tell you if anyone else has
faced the same scenario with the company.
Did the agency make any money from the photo shoot?
Those that do can lose interest in new models pretty
To Whom It May Concern:
We own Prestige Modeling & Talent Agency,
LLC, in Manchester, NH, and indeed we are
a new agency to our area.
We were informed of a couple of letters sent to your
site and would like to inform models/talent with accurate
The information a 16-year-old girl gave to you in regard
to our "guarantee" to get her a job is completely
inaccurate. We also do not see minors without a parent/guardian
present. There is NEVER a guarantee that a model/actor
is going to get work. We market and promote the models/talent
in our agency, we don't choose them for jobs (other than
some promotional companies).
Many people come into our office with a very distorted
idea of what a modeling agency is and does. Modeling
is all about look and image, clients are looking for
a look and image for their company, to help promote the
products they are offering to hopefully increase the
sales for their company. (Example: runway models are
helping designers sell their clothing.) That is something
they determine not us. We simply supply them with potential
faces to choose from.
We do not insist on anyone using specific photographers,
if they know or have a good fashion photographer and
they produce us with pictures that we feel would best
market them and our agency we are more than happy to
let them do that. Many new faces we take on have no photographer
contacts and use us as a guide to get started. Many models
have experience and have their own photographers they
like to use and they supply us with fabulous pictures
we can use.
However, if a model/talent insist on using their own
photographer, we make it very clear that without seeing
the pictures we cannot determine if we can utilize them
at our agency. We run into people coming in with what
they think are great pictures and not being able to use
the pictures because they are not professional.
The photographers we know and have used know exactly
what we're looking for with new faces and we've had great
success getting pictures needed for marketing purposes.
They also re-shoot if that look is not achieved. We certainly
would not take on a new model with pictures we don't
think we can use.
We do take 25% of the total job, as we work hard to
get these jobs and feel this is fair. All models/talent
know this up front and sign a contract stating this.
Anyone thinking this is too high should not sign on with
our agency, and is encouraged to find another agency.
Hard work goes into establishing relations and finding
companies/clients who use models/talent for jobs. We
work extremely hard here at Prestige to seek out these
people and companies.
We are not a modeling school and we do not offer any
paid modeling classes at our agency. We will change our
website because it seems to be causing confusion.
Please feel free to have anyone contact our agency.
We would love to be of any help and give clarification,
Crista Moskowitz and Nicole Alward
Prestige Modeling & Talent Agency
To Whom It May Concern:
I need to tell you about my experience at Prestige
Modeling Agency in Manchester, NH, because
I really feel ripped off.
Several months ago, a girl approached me in the
local mall recruiting girls to come into Prestige Modeling
Agency. She told me that I had "the look they were
A few hours later, I saw the same girl passing out cards
to other girls as well, also telling them that they had "the
look." I thought this was odd.
I met the owners one day, and I was showered with compliments.
And yes, I was told that I needed to use their photographer
And while there was no charge for training and hair,
I would have to pay them $400 to be "promoted" for
a year, but I would surely get a job with my look.
After paying them $200 for the photographer, $400 for
promotion, $600 total, and being assured that something
would come along for me, the next girl showed up, and
I heard the same sales pitch —same compliments,
Well, it's been several months now, and I guess I've
been duped. To make matters worse, the place was filled
with young women who were all recruited by
someone in the mall.
The owners told me that they had all kinds of impressive
clients who use their models, but they were vague about
the companies and wouldn't give me any names.
I am so angry and frustrated and embarrassed.
Should I contact the BBB?
A pattern is emerging in the way Prestige Modeling and
Talent agency conducts its business. If you feel it is
unethical, you can contact the Better Business Bureau,
tell your story, and explain your concerns.
If there is a pattern, young people are approached at
a mall. They are told they have the look and they will
get modeling jobs easily and quickly. Then they are supposed
to pay for photos, and they pay, but they never get any
Since Prestige Modeling apparently approach people in
malls, saying the same thing to many people, it could
represent an issue the local media would like to investigate.
At least this is how it happens in other cities.
Just so you know, other agencies have got in trouble
in the past for soliciting at malls. The malls banned
them with further solicitation putting them at the risk
of being arrested.
You said: "And while there was no charge for training
and hair, I would have to pay them $400 to be "promoted" for
Models are not supposed to pay for promotion by the
agency. It's illegal in New York, for example. It's the
agency's job and responsibility to promote their models.
New Hampshire apparently has no modeling agency laws,
or even any employment agency laws, but once they start
making money from upfront fees, they may never get models
The regulations where they exist in America are designed
to prevent agencies from telling potential models they
are going to get work, billing them, but then never getting
the models work.
If you are in a small market, or a market with very
little modeling jobs, you need to be extra careful about
modeling agencies, extra careful to avoid upfront fees.
You said: "The owners told me that they had all
kinds of impressive clients who use their models, but
they were vague about the companies and wouldn't give
me any names."
Tell that to the BBB. The BBB will not accept vague
answers. Either they have the clients or they don't.
Agencies which are reputable and successful are quick
to boast of the names of their clients with the tear
sheets to prove it featured prominently in their advertising,
at their agency, and on their website.
To Whom It May Concern:
I just recently saw an ad in the paper for Prestige
Modeling in Manchester, NH.
I took it upon myself to go and meet with them. They
offered me a contract that day and told me to take it
home and look it over.
So I did. Having had agents, managers, etc., in the
past, I thought it to be wise to check them out further
on the net; which is where I came across this website.
I saw then what had been written about them, and
their response to it. I felt ok about it, and was going
to sign with them, seeing as they did not say that I
had to pay for pictures or classes, etc.
A few days later, I had my next meeting with them. This
time it was very different. I was told by a
woman that before I signed I needed to pay $300 for
the year for what were called "marketing costs."
These "marketing costs" entailed me being
on their website and on any promo CDs and/or mailings
I was then told that $300 was not a big deal!!!
The women told me: "You already saved $400, because
we are going to use your pictures, and we usually only
use our own photographers."
I then said, "Thank you very much, but I have to
I then left.
I feel this company is a scam and that they are preying
on a small community which does not have a vast knowledge
in this field.
Thank you so much for your time, and I hope to
hear back from you.
You don't want to pay for advertising. It's illegal
in states like Texas.
In Texas, for example, agencies cannot charge talent
for advance registration fees, video or audio tapes,
postcard service, advertising, resumes,
photographs, classes, or require subscriptions to a publication.
If you think about it, resumes, photographs, postcards,
etc., are all forms of advertising. Why shouldn't models
pay for advertising? Because if they did, "agencies" could
make most or all their money from the upfront fees, not
commissions on modeling jobs.
Prestige says they take 25% commission, which is higher
than the normal 20%, but even if they take 25%, they
would have to get a model $1,200 in work to make $300,
the same amount they charge for advertising. Of course,
it's a lot of easier to take $300 upfront because you
don't take any risks and you don't have to work for it.
States like New Hampshire have so few modeling jobs
available by comparison to major markets, there are few
if any laws at all to block upfront fees like advertising,
so you have to take the wisdom in the laws of other states
which have large markets as the guidelines to protect
You said: "These 'marketing costs' entailed me
being on their website."
The "marketing costs" of putting a picture
on a website are almost nothing. You should never pay
an agency for advertising online, firstly because they
are not supposed to make money from advertising, and
secondly because it costs them virtually nothing.
Never accept claims you are getting a discount if you
pay upfront fees. Instead of "saving" money,
save your money.
To Whom It May Concern:
About two months ago, I, too, went to the Prestige modeling
"Prestige" told me I had what they were looking
for, and that I should make an appointment to have some
pictures taken. They said all I would have to bring were
the clothes that I wanted to wear.
I ended up paying them the $200 up front for the contract
and then another $400 for the photo shoot.
They told me that with my looks I would have a modeling
job in no time, and that they wished that I had come
a few months earlier, because they had just done a bikini
shoot in the Bahamas.
Another thing that kind of made me question them was
that they told me it would be a couple of weeks before
my portfolio was ready.
Yet the very next day I received a call saying my portfolio
was completed and I could come down and pick it up.
When I got there I realized that the whole photo shoot
had been done on digital camera and my portfolio was
on a disc.
Isn't it more likely that photos like these would be
on film for better quality?
It has been quite some time now and I have heard nothing
from them about any jobs or that they were still looking.
I do believe after reading this site's letters that
this is a scam and I just want to warn others to stay
If there is any type of action that myself and others
could take, please let us know.
I must say in closing that I feel very foolish for having
fell into this trap, but I could not stand by in silence
to let it happen to someone else.
Thanks for your time,
The problem is New Hampshire apparently has relatively
little modeling work, no modeling agency regulations,
and not even any employment agency regulations.
All that makes NH a high-risk state; and the risk is
compounded with upfront fees, which are always high risk.
They would not be able to get away with these upfront
fees in other states, neither the registration fee, nor
the photography fee.
Contact the office of your Attorney General. Share your
experience, say it is the same as others, and the state
does not have regulations to protect consumers; then
find out what they are going to do about it.
Modeling and Talent Agency Letters Index