Don’t Fall for a Modeling Scam
Unfortunate as it may be, scams in the modeling industry are extremely common and can have detrimental effects on those just starting out or those who have been in the industry for years. Due to the public nature of our work and willingness to take odd jobs from nontraditional sources, we make ourselves easy targets for online scammers. However, this doesn’t mean we can’t make smart decisions and protect ourselves. The purpose of this blog is to expose some of the more common scams I’ve seen and prevent at least one more person from being fooled into parting with their money.
One of the most notorious modeling scams is what’s known as an overpayment scam. It starts like this: you get an email (or DM) from a person saying their client was impressed with your portfolio and will be doing a shoot in your area in the near future and would like you to model for them. Not only that, they are going to pay you in advance! Of course, they tell you this is a once-in-a-lifetime offer and you have to act fast. Next, they say they will be sending you a check with your pay PLUS pay for another person, such as a stylist or makeup artist, and they will ask you to forward the other party their money, usually through PayPal or CashApp. Here’s the catch—the second you deposit their check and transfer the money, they will cancel the original check and it will bounce. YOU will be responsible for the FULL amount of the check which can run in the hundreds or thousands of dollars. Of course, no photoshoot was ever planned in the first place, and they disappear with your money that was transferred.
NEVER accept prepayment for a job unless you have a contract in place with a reputable vendor, and models should NEVER be responsible for paying other vendors.
Another common modeling scam is what I call the “Guaranteed Followers Scam” and is directed at models and influencers on Instagram. While it might not be as financially devastating as an overpayment scam, it certainly is just as annoying.
Typically, this scam starts with you getting a DM such as in the screenshot pictured.
Sounds good, right? For a relatively cheap price, you can get exposure on IG profiles with hundreds of thousands of followers and thus get more followers yourself. Here’s the catch—if you choose one of their options, they will keep trying to up-sell you, meaning, get you to buy more things (‘Since you got this package, it’s only $XX more to get a feature on our highlight reel’or ‘I have a special discount today for $XX.’, or ‘it’s only $XX to be our featured model of the week,’ etc). The more you pay, the more chance for followers, right? Not exactly. You may not get a single new follower from these scams! Not only that, once your photo is posted on their pages, you will be targeted by hundreds more of these types of scams that frequent these pages. Avoid at all costs.
IG pages you actually want to be featured on don’t have to ask for money.
A third more benign yet equally annoying scam is the “Collab(orate) Scam.” This is where companies hire third parties (i.e. bots) to automatically post in the comments of your IG post asking you to collab (the bots are linked to hashtags you use, location, etc). When you message them, they direct you to their website to purchase something and say they will feature you on their IG page ONLY if you make a purchase. So you make a purchase, feature their item on a post on your IG page with hastags (i.e. free advertising for them), and….nothing…. (whomp, whomp). No feature, no mention, nada. They will tell you, “it’s not guaranteed, but buy something else and maybe you’ll be featured.” Don’t do it.
Companies interested in working with models will send them product FOR FREE.
Finally, I wanted to share an email I got the other day:
As flattering as it might seem, a major fashion house like Dior would NEVER reach out for a casting through your personal email…just saying.
IF IT SOUNDS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, IT IS.
Thank you for this Ted Talk