How To Avoid Becoming The Victim of Modeling Scams


The bad news about the modeling industry: it's full of scams. The good news: education can keep you from avoiding all of them.

The internet has become a force for both education and revelation. Some sites help you learn what scams look like; while others specifically name which ones are frauds. Once you learn the basics about what modeling scams look like, you don't even have to ask anyone about a modeling agency or school, "Is this a scam?"

This site is a crash course with free advice to help girls hoping to become models avoid the pitfalls that clean out their entire savings or waste their parents' money. There are other websites which have consumer complaints and industry veterans exposing the scams by name. emphasizes modeling scams in the United States, but very similar if not identical schemes are found in Canada, the UK, Australia, other English-speaking countries, as well as virtually every other country that has models.

Thousands of young women are interested in modeling and get scammed every year, but surprisingly few books have been written about modeling scams. In fact, you'd be lucky to find half a dozen books ever written on them in general or about one of them in particular. Some books on modeling talk about the frauds to watch out for almost superficially with a chapter or two. They are neither very deep nor very effective, and usually lack real-world examples.

This site has many articles which provide some of the resources, tips, and methods of discernment needed that you can't find in books to make good decisions while planning a modeling career or trying to figure out, "How do I become a model?"

It includes examples of modeling companies which were prosecuted by the federal government as frauds and some that were sued by other branches of government. These are a good standard to know what is legitimate and what is a scam. Looking at just a handful of cases, indeed, can help you see if an agency you've contacted or considered is legitimate.

Those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Take some time to learn the history of the modeling industry so you can avoid big mistakes or even small ones.

For those girls or parents who have already been scammed, there are some articles on what you can do to get refunds.

Even before looking for an agency, it's possible to avoid getting scammed by stepping back to make an honest self-assessment. How many people would avoid being defrauded if they were humble about their looks and lack of knowledge about all that is involved in being a model? The two questions:

1) Do I really look like a model?

2) Do I know enough about the industry, both the good and bad, to understand if it's right for me?

Right at the beginning before you jump in with both feet, you can consider whether you really want to be a model after all, despite what you originally thought was a great idea.

Dressing up and getting paid lots of money sure sounds a lot better to a 14-year-old girl than flipping burgers at McDonalds or working as a cashier at Wal-Mart. But that's not the whole story. Do you fully understand what you could be getting yourself into when you try to become a model? What happens when you start down the path?

Are you really cut out for all the bad stuff in the modeling industry?

Once you peel away the glitter and glamour of being a model which the media emphasizes and the fashion industry exploits, what have you got?

You may have to spend a lot of time travelling to auditions or model casting calls. These are competitive and you will often be rejected. Politely, you hope. Even so, if you don't deal with rejection well, it will pull you down. You won't always believe them when they say you don't have the look they want; how do you not take it personally sometimes when you are always being judged on your looks?

What are you going to do if your agent says you're fat and tells you to lose weight? You're not fat, and you know it. Your friends think you're thin and maybe your mother feels you're too thin. But the agent explains you need to be slimmer to get bookings. What if you try to shed some pounds but can't? The last five pounds are always the most difficult--and that's for women who aren't trying to be models. It can be twice as hard when you're already slim. What if more exercise isn't working? What would you do? Start smoking? Starve yourself? Would you risk damaging yourself through poor nutrition?

Coco Rocha, 21, is a fashion model who weighs only 105 lbs. “I’ve been told to lose weight even though I am really skinny," she said.1 Rocha stated she was going to be defiant, but it's a more difficult decision for models who are younger and less established in the industry.

Do you realize how many bookings you might need before you become a successful model? One booking getting you the cover of Vogue2 is definitely the exception, not the rule. It is much more likely you'll have to build a portfolio over many months before you prove yourself and really get noticed. Are you patient? If not you will get frustrated and want to quit.

Speaking of photography, do you want to have to deal with possibly crude lensmen, or even abusive ones. In recent years, we have all heard about Roman Polanski, and what he did to a 13-year-old model, Samantha Geimer, who was interviewed by Larry King.3

KING: So how did you come to get to his -- to Jack Nicholson's house?

GEIMER: Well, that was the -- where the photo shoot was going to be, so--

KING: So did your mother take you there?

GEIMER: No, she wanted to go along, but he said that he thought maybe she shouldn't, because I might feel uncomfortable, or not be natural, I think.

KING: Was he the photographer?







A new organization called the Model Alliance was launched in 2012 to support models, as well as those who are considering, or just starting, a modeling career. It was started by Sara Ziff. Although it is not affiliated with this site, its mandate is; so you may want consider visiting its website or contacting the staff directly if you need guidance or some kind of help:

The Model Alliance from Coco Rocha on Vimeo.
Her Tumblr page has more info.