How to Spot a Modeling / Acting Scam

There are too many marketing companies that prey on a persons quest for fame. These companies and their affiliates post casting notices, auditions and ads on Craigslist, and other free classified sites that refer to fake auditions and non existent castings for jobs that sound real. Some also use ads on the radio and newspapers to entice people.

Here is why they do this. Money!
There are many different scams preying on people trying to break into the industry. Here are just a few.

There are many companies claiming to be agencies that will claim to find you work… if you pay them. They don’t just come out and ask for money, they first get your confidence and reel you in slowly. Often times they schedule a “fake” audition (they don’t ask for money here to put you at ease), then they call and tell you ‘you are great’ come in for a 2nd audition and sometimes a 3rd. Once there, they tell you “you are perfect… but…”. This is where the salesperson kicks in and tries to sell you on photos, portfolios, online portfolios, classes, conventions and anything else they can push on you. The audition was not actually for a real part in any production, it was to evaluate how much you will spend and how much they can sucker you out of.

Then there are companies that don’t sell any services themselves, they get paid to sell your information to companies that have telemarketers and salespeople.

The companies / individuals involved are paid to get “leads”. Leads are people of a certain demographic such as child, teen, man, etc. that have a interest, such as acting or modeling, that they can later exploit by way of email spam, telemarketing, etc. After you answer a “fake” casting (much of craigslist was fake when I tested it), you will begin getting offers through email and sales pitches from telemarketers, all aimed at getting you to sign up for some service.

Many times they call you and say they have an audition for you. They pose as casting directors, agents, etc. They try to get you excited and pump up your ego with flattery. Real agents and casting directors do not just pick a name ‘out of a hat’ and offer a high paying acting job to someone they never met or seen perform.

When the telemarketers are done with you, your info gets sold to the next company and the routine starts again. Some internet marketers go as far as responding to your inquiry with a message that “you are perfect” or “will send the audition details”, but first… please go here and do this.

This is a different type of scam and not that obvious to most.
Those affiliates get paid to funnel people to other sites, usually sites that deal with background checks or security of some kind. Age and citizenship verification are a common ploy. I answered one Extra casting (sounded very real) that sent me to a site that does ssl certificates. Most people would not even understand that ssl certification is for online shopping carts and has zero to to do acting or auditions. The marketer just used that because it went along the lines of “verify your identity” for the fake casting call and he gets paid 30 bucks for every FREE lead he sends to the company. He is scamming them too! I was looking for an audition, NOT a shopping cart! I am useless as a lead to them, but he still gets paid ’till caught. Then he moves on to the next company looking for leads.

Here’s how to spot the real castings from the fakes.

Remember, real casting directors will always want a headshot, resume, acting reel, and for modeling things such as height, weight, size, etc. If all they ask for is an optional photo and contact info than beware. The scammers need the photo because the sales pitch involves a lot of flattery. The sales pitch is honed to make you feel special and chosen.

Beware of anyone looking for “new faces”. Everyone has a new face! You can walk out your door and find dozens in a minute! The word “new faces” is a red flag.

Beware of general needs such as “any ethnicity, ages 5 to 75” that’s almost EVERYONE! Real castings have specific needs (with the exception of extras / background).

Beware of “no experience necessary.” While some casting calls for kids and background actors do not require experience, most principal roles require both.

Beware of ads with large pay. Ads that read like “models and actors needed for ‘put in any large brand here’ pay is $1800 daily and job is 4 to 5 days….”

Beware of ads that quote union rates such as $752 a day without mention of union. They are just pulling union jobs knowing you have ZERO way of getting the gig or worse, making them up and quoting union rates.

Beware of anything that asks for lingerie, topless, etc. and request pics from you to be considered. Use your imagination on what someone will do with those. Real casting directors will want head shots, full body shot(clothed) and measurements.

Beware of webcam auditions, Skype auditions and the like from people you do not know. There are legit ones done that way with experienced actors and scammers are playing on that. There have been many scams where ladies did those and were talked out of their clothing by people saying “I need to see what you really look like” and other lines. Those videos then get sold in other countries and end up all over the internet for others enjoyment.

Beware of Extras casting calls that are nationwide. Generally, large productions go through a casting company. Anyone posting things like “Extras needed to make scene look ‘real’,  ‘Insert big movie name here’ pays $300 daily” is a scam. Non-Union extras earn about minimum wage and are ALWAYS cast locally.

Beware of anyone asking you to follow a link to do a background check. Do not sign up for any background or age verification site. Those are 100% scam, even though it seems free for you to do it, the scammer is selling your info to an unsuspecting company and you will never hear back about the audition.

Beware of anything that says call some number, casting agents are waiting. Casting directors look at headshots and resumes than call back who they like. They do not sit by a phone waiting for everyone and their mom to call without even knowing if they fit. Basically, they call you if they like you.

Beware of ANYONE that approaches you at a shopping mall to sign you up to audition for Disney Channel or whatever. Those are 100% fake. Disney does not work that way nor does any casting director. Those are sales people who are trying to get you in the door so they can then sell you stuff. There is no audition!!!!! You will be wasting your time going and many meetings later they will ask for payment for some inferior service. It takes many meeting because they attempt to gain your trust and have you invest your time. They try to make it look like they are doing auditions, then callbacks, etc. Not for a real role. It is for the opportunity to work with them and they make people feel special for being selected to come back so much. Fact is, they do that with everyone and the only thing they are evaluating is your ability to pay up.

And lastly, beware of anyone selling anything. Remember, you applied for a JOB! Means, they pay YOU!

How to protect yourself:

Get an email, an anonymous one for casting calls that you respond to. That way if it gets spammed, you can change it easily.

NEVER, follow a link to another site asking you to enter private information that has zero to do with what you are applying for.

Do your homework – Google company names. If you want to see any bad press you can Google ‘company name scam’ or things along that line. Check consumer report sites. Many try to hide the bad press and small operations change names often. If you can’t find anything about them, that’s a red flag.

You can check how long their website has been around by doing a ‘who is’ search. I just ran into a agency that looked fishy the other day. They claimed tons of credits and offered promises of fame. I checked them out. Their company website was created a few days back, hosted in the Ukraine and registered anonymously. Unless the Ukraine is the new Hollywood, I’m thinking, this may be a scam.

Remember, if it sounds like a dream, it most likely is just some low life trying to pay his bills off yours. Real jobs take commitment, training and diligence. You begin at the bottom with low paying jobs and castings in small productions, then work your way up as it is in any industry. Once you get some training, a resume and experience, then you get an agent to go after the larger jobs.

With all the above said, there are great opportunities available. You just need to learn how to stay away from the scammers. With practice, you will learn to spot the real from the fake. Even I still get fooled by some. Luckily, the readers normally catch those and leave me a comment to remove the spam.

Also, comments are taken and will be posted on this page. Add your own tips to avoid modeling and acting scams. I will moderate and post.

You can also read child acting scams for more info.

442 thoughts on “How to Spot a Modeling / Acting Scam

  1. A.

    NEW INSTAGRAM SCAN STAR – PAID CASTING. THEY POST BUNCH OF JUICY CASTING EVERY DAY, WITH HIGH PAYDAYS, BUT NEVER ANSWER! WHEN I MENTIONED TO THEM THAT IT MIGHT BE SCAM – THEY WAS EXTREMELY RUDE AND BLOCKED!

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    Available to all genders and Ethnic Backgrounds, American and International People.

    * United Airlines: Paid to travel to states or countries and post your adventures to social media to promote United Airlines. $1000 Per Trip plus expenses.

    * Fenty Beauty hiring Ethnic Talent. paid to promote Brand. Talent Chosen will be sent a package per month of product to promote. $1000-$3000 per month.

    * Nars Beauty Hiring Models, MUAs, Hairstylists Paid to promote brand $1500-$4000 per month. Talent Chosen will be sent a package per month of product to promote.

    * Apple Beats hiring Fitness Talent. Paid to promote Brand.Talent Chosen will be sent a package per month of product to promote.

    Reply
  2. Carol

    We submitted my daughter’s headshots to several modeling agencies. MMG in NYC responded and wanted to meet her. We met with one of the talent agents, who said they would like to work with her, but she would need to get more photographs taken – with full make up and hair, “highly retouched.” She recommended 3 photographers and the price was $1,475. I can’t help thinking that MMG is getting a cut. I also thought that clients wanted to see models in their “natural state” and not made up. This doesn’t quite sound like a scam, but it also doesn’t sound totally legit to me. I would love your thoughts, Erica.

    Reply
  3. Jeremiah Brannan

    I recently got signed by ICE Model and Talent Management. They didnt ask me to pay a monthly fee or for headshots or anything like that. I went in for an audition, came back the next day and then they picked me. I payed 1795 for an acting and modeling workshop but not for headshots or anything like that. Was I scammed? It’s hard to say, I’ve done my research and most reviews are super old and I cant find a specific situation like mine. Does this sound like a scam, should I stick with it? The first class is on Oct 26th, and its twice a month so I’m not sure. Any advice is appreciated

    Reply
    1. erica

      If you wanted classes, then OK. But generally, an audition is basically a job interview for actors. Would you expect to go to an interview at say… a clothing store and be asked to pay the store rather then them pay you? No. A job interview is an opportunity for you to make some money, not to be charged. If you go to an audition and are asked to pay, walk away. Would you ever pay money to interview for a job anywhere else? Shady companies that have NO affiliations to any productions use the word audition loosely, for sales pitches. They get people there using the word “audition” and then sell them services such as classes, headshots, showcases, whatever they can. Remember that an audition should be for something specific… as in a 20 year old who looks 16 and can tap dance for some specific role is some specific project. If there is no specific role, then it is simply a sales pitch.

      Reply
      1. Steve

        I saw an open audition for Talent INC and they had some success stories and I was chosen. It wasn’t to audition for anything in specific but to audition for them to work with me. Being chosen they said I would go to the conference/showcase in Florida where I’d take a few classes, do a performance in front of “people in the industry” and whole itinerary. The whole thing is $2,600 + not including air or hotel. When I met with the director I asked what I’m paying for since nothing is included and she just pointed to the itinerary of the showcase. They have a website and instagram profiles with some engagement but I’m not sure. What threw me off was obviously the price and the fact “people in the industry” very vague. I signed the papers before digging deeper in my research but made it so the first payment of the plan was to happen on the last day of the 7 day period I had to decide. I emailed them saying I no longer want to participate and to get rid of all the paperwork with my info on it. The director was very easy going with that which also throws me back in the “hmm are they legit?” Corner but my skeptic thoughts are still here. Is this a scam?

        Reply
        1. erica

          Auditions are job interviews and should not cost money. Productions have roles in mind and audition for specific roles. If your instinct is to question something, you are most likely right to do so.

          Reply
        2. Nasir Muqtadir

          Have the opportunity to audition for them today. I wonder if it’s the same company. What’s the directors name?

          Reply
    2. Donnell

      I received an email about the new Game of Thrones sequel. The set up a conference call with 4 other people. The lady explained the project, the travel would be paid for along with pay. I have not heard back in a week. I decided to send an email to follow. They wrote back and said I’ve been picked for the role and they needed a replacement. I would have one or two speaking lines. They told me if I’m not in the actors union nor if I do not have an agency I need to register so I can get you cleared to work on set. I would need to register an they discounted the charge so you can I can work on these type of assignments as they have other work pop up as well.

      “You will pay to get our member hooded sweatshirt which is discounted for you
      as an invited member. You will buy our member hooded shirt to support our causes and help the membership at an invitational discounted price. Proceeds support the children’s hospital and resources to help advocate better health for our membership. We will use your registration with the hoodie and get you cleared.”

      Here is the link: (removed)
      The company name is BBDO Interactive
      (link removed)

      P.S. I have been an extra on 3 different shows and never had to purchase anything. I only had to submit headshots and experience. Is the company legitimated? Please help

      Reply
      1. erica

        This is not how anything works! If you have worked as an extra you must know that travel is not paid. Extras are always cast locally as they earn about min wage. Extras do not need agencies and legit agents make a percent of YOUR pay, they do not charge upfront fees.

        Reply
        1. Donnell

          I emailed him back with my concerns. He stated this is a principle role. Attached PDF from Grok Television Production. It’s a small speaking role, but will require electronically submitted table read. The pay rate is $1300 plus per hour depending on your background and experience.

          Reply
          1. erica

            Well you know the saying… If it sounds too good to be true… it most likely is not true. FYI, Rates for actors in the union come no where close to that and are not hourly. Extras are lucky to make a couple hundred a day. Most extras are paid min. wage. Productions only deal with agents for principal roles. They do not reach out to random people they have never met, do not know if they can even act, off the internet. Those casting breakdowns and production notes are readily available to anyone through sites like https://www.productionweekly.com/ – here is the link to the imdb page which lists who is actually handling principal casting – https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6857128/fullcredits

            Here is a link to the SAG / Aftra professional actor rate sheet. Keep in mind this is only for union actors, those that have paid their dues and have representation. https://www.sagaftra.org/production-center/contract/810/rate-sheet/document

      2. The Hunchback of Nortre Scam

        Scam. Lucinda Syson is the casting director and she’s not even listed on the “About Us” page of their ugly ass website. None of the staff listed there exist. Plus they contacted me, someone with no acting or industry experience whatsoever, with the same offer. They got my email because it’s on my public IG page… which has 350 followers (mostly friends and acquaintances – I’m only active on my business pages). They obviously paid for followers on their IG page I found (terrible/no engagement) and don’t even post pictures from their own company or clients on IG or on their website. Their website even credits the stock photos they’re using and if you click around enough you’ll find pages where they didn’t write over the random gibberish website templates come with so you can see what your layout will look like with text before it’s published. They have a black model listed with “Hair color: gray, Eye color: green” and a stock photo of some other caucasian model with light brown hair, with her hair color listed as black. On top of that they have multiple pages that just link you to random YouTube videos or their unfinished Shopify store to buy a hoodie.

        Also the person sending their emails has no grammar skillz.

        I could go on and on but hopefully that’s enough to convince you. Don’t waste your time with them and definitely do not sign up for anything, buy anything, accept anything (especially “payment in advance” or money for flights/hotel) or give them any personal information about yourself. They’re trying to get money from you via the hoodie sale (you’ll never get the hoodie btw) and if that doesn’t work they’ll probably try to have you register info about yourself somewhere, for whatever reason, so they can sell it. Oh and if you try to buy the hoodie they’ll probably steal your identity using the personal and card information you submit.

        Sincerely,

        Someone whose been trolling on the internet for far too long. I also work in research and marketing and their whole internet presence is an absolute joke.

        Reply
      3. Brittany Scroggins

        Thank you for this; I got contacted by Beats to do a commercial thingy now I knew they were fake. I couldn’t find any info the side is put up very cheaply. I find