Crimes of Persuasion

Schemes, scams, frauds.

Robert Amatruda ( aka Robert Amatruda & Associates Management

[Note: This company/individual should not be confused with Amatruda Benson & Associates aka ABA Talent]

Consumers report receiving unsolicited letters from Robert Amatruda offering a free seminar: "My daughter received a letter from Robert Amatruda and Associates. I was wondering if anyone knew how they might have got my daughter's name. How do they get any of the kids' names?"

The answer is Robert Amatruda gets or buys a mailing list from the infamous John Casablancas schools. Amatruda has admitted his background with a John Casablancas Modeling and Career Center -- he owned and operated one (!) -- and a consumer wrote and said they had attended one of the John Casablancas Modeling and Career Centers. [Aug. 8, 2004]

John Casablancas Modeling and Career Centers are known for selling expensive and virtually useless classes and selling expensive and totally unnecessary professional photography.

Below is an example of an Amatruda letter submitted by a consumer investigating Amatruda:

Dear D.,  

Meet the man responsible for some of the most exciting careers in the entertainment industry. Robert Amatruda, top Los Angeles casting director, will be in Atlanta this week only!  

Mr. Amatruda's talent appears in movies, TV shows, music videos and national commercials such as (he lists some).   Mr. Amatruda will be holding a free seminar on becoming an actor "the right way" and scouting for potential actors and actresses.  

This letter is your personal invitation to meet with Mr. Amatruda, president of Robert Amatruda Management.   This letter is only being sent to a limited number of people, so don't miss your chance, Thursday, January 16th at The Crowne Plaza Ravinia Hotel at 7:30 p.m. to meet the man that can change your life.  

Training may be suggested to qualified candidates.   Under 18 must be with a parent.   Dress casually and bring a snapshot that can be left with Mr. Amatruda and his staff.   Space is limited.   Call (number listed).

What starts off as a free seminar by a supposed expert becomes a sales pitch for extremely expensive photography.

We decided against going to the Robert Amatruda and Associates meeting. When we researched this man's company on the internet, we just had a bad feeling. It seems they make their money from the headshots that you pay for upfront, and you have to provide your own transportation to LA. They cannot guarantee that your child will even get work.

They said in the seminar that they do not provide jobs; a terrific headshot gets you the job. My question was . . . If they want to use their own photographer to take these photos, why don't they bring him/her with them and take them here [instead of wasting your money flying to Los Angeles]?!!

Aspiring actors do not need expensive headshots to get noticed.

There is important information and a consumer complaint against Robert Amatruda & Associates at the Better Business Bureau website:

This company's business is a scout talent and is offering talent management for print, film, and television.   Bureau File Experience   We rate this company as having an unsatisfactory business
performance record.

One complainant alleges receiving a flyer from Robert Amatruda who she believed was a talent agent for her daughter to attend an audition at a hotel. Upon attending the presentation, the customer states the company uses misconception by claiming they can help children enter the film industry when in actuality they are selling high priced photo shoots.

The customer contends after paying $1870.00, nobody showed up for the pre-photo shoot workshop and the photo shoot location was in a run down building with homeless people loitering in the area. Another complainant alleges she could cancel if the photographer was unable to do the shoot, but received a letter from the company stating they are no longer working with that photographer and as a result requested a refund, but has not received anything.

The company responds to one complaint by stating Robert Amatruda is only a speaker and endorses photographers. The complaint will be forwarded to the creative director who works with the photographer. The other complaint remains unanswered.

This company is part of the BAM Models Management Team and refers consumers to their affilate company, Model Development. Both companies have an unsatisfactory rating and a separate report is available. [Aug. 8, 2004]

According to a legal document (CASE NO. LC 063386), dated March 7, 2003, obtained from, Robert Amatruda does business with Blake Yoon and Robert Macias. Blake Yoon has a criminal record. (Why does Amatruda associate with a convicted criminal?) All three men are named together as cross-complainants or joint plaintiffs in the same suit:

BAM, INC., [ BOOKING ACTORS & MODELS, INC.] a California corporation; ROBERT AMATRUDA, an individual; BLAKE YOON, an individual; ROBERT MACIAS, an individual; MODEL DEVELOPMENT, INC., a California corporation; PRO-IMAGE, INC., a California corporation; FLASH MODELS, INC., a California corporation; MILLENNIUM MODELS, INC., a California corporation

The complaint itself alleged $100,000 of business losses, strongly suggesting "MILLENNIUM MODELS, INC., a California corporation, dba Model Development" does at least $100,000 of business:

As an actual, direct and proximate result of defendants' conduct complained of herein, Cross-complainant Millennium was damaged in an amount according to proof at trial, but not less than $100,000. (¶66 at 20-22)

The nature of the business, as described in the document, is photo shoots:

Despite the facts that Cross-defendant . . . was also a photographer, as a condition to employment, Cross-defendant . . . agreed that he would be employed as a sales representative of Millennium and would not offer Millennium's clients other services including photography services, which were to be provided by Millennium. (¶12 at 1-5)

The companies/individuals travel to different states across America; the examples given in the document are: Iowa; Santa Barbara, California; Columbus, Ohio; Dallas, Texas; Chicago, Illinois; Salt Lake City, Utah; Columbia South Carolina; Dallas, Texas (again). At these different locations, consumers attend what the plaintiffs describe as "conference[s]." (¶24 at 20-21)

The dispute is regarding a photographer. The complaint alleges money paid to a photographer for photography should have been paid to the company (who then presumably would have paid the photographer). By implication, the consumers were overcharged, or, because the photographer was paid directly, the company was unable to make any money off photography.

As examples of payments, they claim the photographer "received and failed to account to Millennium for the following funds he received while employed by and under a duty to report and account to Millennium" which were paid by personal check and/or cash: $475, $625, $5,995, $1,475, $200, $390, $2,254, $3,000. (¶58 at 9-17).

The admissions of the legal document are that BAM under its various doing business as names (why are there so many?!) makes a huge amount of money from photoshoots for aspiring models before they get agency representation. This is in direct conflict with industry standards. Industry experts strongly advise against getting professional photography before getting agency representation.

Nina Blanchard, who was top LA model agent and owner of the Nina Blanchard Agency, which was eventually sold to Ford Models, the country's top agency, said: "Do not get a portfolio before getting an agent." You don't need professional photos to get the attention of an agent.

Even if you wanted to get unnecessary, expensive photography before finding an agent, there is no reason why you should not pay the photographer directly. Easy Background Check has learned that modeling companies which collect fees for photography invariably mark up the price at an extreme rate behind the potential model's back.

In one case, new models in New York were charged $1,500 for photography and the payments were made to the agency. A photographer who had not been paid wrote and said the models were being gouged because he was supposed to be paid $300 per model, yet the agency pocketed $1,200 per model!

See also Modeling Tips: Expert Modeling Advice and Modeling Industry Legal History