Fashion model on a shoot
Don't let flattery fool you into believing you could be the next top model overnight. Those promises of jobs, photo shoots and trips to New York are designed to tap into your cash, not talent.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett has warned consumers to be on the lookout for high-paying, part-time modeling jobs posted on Internet message forums, in e-mail ads and fake websites -- a high-tech take on the classic modeling scam of "discovering" a top model.

"These crooks are hoping that the attraction of work as a model, along with a paid trip to New York or other exciting locations, will get consumers to respond quickly and send money before verifying that the offer is legitimate," Corbett said in a statement.

How the scam works is a consumer might get a check as an advance payment for a photo session, but they are asked to send some of that money to a photographer, a studio or a booking agent to secure the job. The trouble is, the paycheck is worthless and the consumer finds out the hard way when the check bounces.


Corbett said these job scams can change, but all share common themes:
  • Easy money for a small amount of work.
  • The need to respond immediately.
  • Difficulty meeting prospective employers face-to-face.
  • A request at some point to wire-transfer money to another person.
That's not to say there aren't legitimate modeling agencies out there -- but be careful. The U.S. Better Business Bureau said would-be models used them to research agencies more than a half million times nationwide over the last three years. The group also got more than 2,000 complaints about consumers being misled by agencies into paying upfront fees for photos and portfolios, but then getting little or no modeling or acting work in return.

"Modeling can be a great way to supplement your income, but signing up with a deceptive talent agency can be a waste of time and money or, in the worst case scenario, put you in physical danger," BBB spokeswoman Alison Southwick said. "Even if the agency tells you that you have 'the look', always take the time to do your research and don't fall for empty promises."

The BBB recommended doing research before signing anything. Get all details in writing. Be cautious of promises for lots of jobs and money -- in reality, income from modeling is never guaranteed and jobs can be few and far between.

Corbett said be wary of online job offers that seem "too good to be true," especially if you are being asked to wire-transfer money, pay upfront fees or share personal information with strangers.

"Scam artists are only interested in two things -- getting you to respond quickly and convincing you to send them money," Corbett said. "Everything they say or do is going to be focused on getting their hands on your money as quickly as possible."

That is a view echoed by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, which said if a stranger says you've got "that look" to be a model, ask yourself why they are saying that. Don't let your emotions or empty flattery rule your wallet.

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