When Ryan considered the future after Kuna High School graduation a week ago, the possibilities seemed limitless.
“So, when I got this invitation from Model Mayhem to do a shoot in Texas, I really thought my dreams had been answered,” the 18-year-old said.
Ryan had posted his pictures on a popular site, Model Mayhem, a network for professional and amateur models, photographers, makeup artists and stylists. BBB lists Model Mayhem in several locations, and none is accredited.
He set up a profile and expected the best, and apparently, it happened.
BBB warns about schemers who troll the site regularly for wannabe models, taking advantage of their dreams and drive.
After Ryan responded to the offer, the man said he was sending a check and told him to cash it, keep $400 and forward the remaining money to the makeup artist who was helping with the photo shoot. The check was written on a United for Better Living Inc. account in the amount of $2,987.33.
“Once my son read that he realized that mom was right and this was a scam,” said his mother, Paula. Fortunately, Ryan needed a release form signed because of his minor status, which canceled any participation with this fraudulent photographer.
Schemes like this pay-forward check scam may take young people off guard, and parents, friends and advisers need to put out the warning to help them from being taken.
“There are legitimate modeling agencies out there,” says Better Business Bureau CEO Dale Dixon. “However, far too often, consumers are victimized by fraudulent agencies promising money, exposure and stardom.”
Be prepared when entering the model/acting profession and get good advice, he says.
“Before becoming involved with an agency or photographer, know exactly what they should be doing for you,” Dixon says. “Remember, without you, they’re not making money.”
Consider these tips from Model Mayhem:
• Do your research. Talk to models that have worked with the photographer. Ask the photographer to provide phone numbers for two recent models. Research the models.
• Don’t pay up front. Paying for work isn’t how you land a job. Never pay to do a photo unless it’s for your personal portfolio.
• Bring an escort to a photo shoot. Parents sometimes are discouraged to attend, but feel free to ask for someone else to attend or wait during a photo shoot.
• Identify how the photos will be used. Find out how the photos are bing used, who booked the photographer, what type of products will be used, does it involve nudity, partial nudity or faux nudity. Discuss this before you agree to the shoot.
• ‘Too Good to be True.’ Extremely high paying photo shoots don’t just appear.
• Photo release. Understand, before the photo shoot, what happens to your images. A few photographers tell the models that they’re only using their photos for the portfolio but in reality and in some cases, the photos are sold and the models are never paid.
Ethical and legitimate talent and modeling agencies in the entertainment business are there to represent the model. An agency should be engaged in the marketing and booking of talent, Dixon says.
Usually a state license is required to book work for a fee. The agent’s role is to promote the talent who has contracted for their marketing services, negotiate the most favorable contract for the talent and collect a commission from the talent.
It’s important that the model feels comfortable with the agent. Interview him or her thoroughly like checking out a doctor, lawyer, or CPA. Remember, the agent will be working for model, not vice versa.
Carefully review any contract. This is an agreement regarding what the agent will do to earn the commission the model pays.