If you’re like many proud parents, you believe your kids have the “right look” to become a child model. When a “talent scout” or “scouting agent” agrees with you, it’s only natural to get excited. But beware, as they may be setting you up to become the next victim of a child modeling scam.
The scammers are only interested in one thing – getting your money – not making your child a modeling star. Here’s how they typically work: You and your child are at a mall or shopping center and a scouting agent comments on how lovely your child is, then asks if your child currently models.
If you say no, they may suggest a photo shoot or classes to help your child get modeling jobs. What they won’t tell you is the classes typically cost between $1,000 and $1,500 and the “portfolio” of professional photos will run $600 to $1,200.
What happens next? After the expensive classes, you are told to be ready for auditions and modeling jobs, which never materialize. The expensive photo portfolio is simply money down the drain, as legitimate booking agents and agencies usually ask for casual snapshots, as a child’s looks can change so quickly.
Here are the best ways to spot a scam and how to protect yourself from the scammers:
1. They ask for a fee to represent your child. Legitimate modeling agencies never charge up-front fees to act as your child’s agent. Like most businesses, a legitimate agency gets their fee only after they have found modeling jobs, and your child has completed the work.
2. They require you use their photographer. When starting out, casual shots of your child, such as a head shot and a full-length shot are all that is required. You can do your own, or hire the pro of your choice. Any agency that requires you to use “their” photographer is probably a scammer.
3. They require that your child take classes only at their school. There are legitimate schools, classes and workshops that teach the basics of poise, diction, make-up and more, usually for a reasonable fee of $50 – $100 per class or workshop. Higher prices usually indicate a scammer.
4. They guarantee a refund if you’re not satisfied or guarantee that your child will get modeling jobs. Scammers can invent such strict refund conditions that no one can qualify. Of course, legitimate modeling agencies never, ever guarantee a child will get modeling jobs.
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. So take the time to check out the company before signing or paying. Are they licensed with your state? Search the internet, using the company name and “scam” or “complaint.” Insist on references from previous clients who have gotten modeling jobs. Avoiding scammers can help your child, and avoid disappointment and help parents avoid the huge and unnecessary costs.