Every industry has scams and scam artists. The entertainment industry is no exception. It is full of people who want to take advantage of innocent people and their dreams.
The only way to prevent such bad experiences from occurring is to educate yourself. That’s why we have collected a handful of valuable insights from a fraud specialist on how to spot a scammer. When browsing through casting calls, or if you ever receive a message from casting agents you have not worked with before, do keep an eye out for the following red flags:
1. Poor grammar
The majority of the scams are from foreigners with bad use of English and almost non-existent entertainment industry lingo.
2. Hidden fees
Watch out for hidden fees (for example, for an acting course or an expensive portfolio). There’s no harm in someone selling professional workshops or headshots as long as that’s what they are advertising. Never pay for your kid to audition. Never send any money to secure a role for your kid. And if you are pressured into giving money - it’s definitely a scam.
A real project will never offer to pay the talent up front before they've done any work for them. Scammers, however, will frequently offer to pay upfront to try and gain your trust. A common prepayment method among scammers is to send their victim a check which will bounce a few days after being deposited.
4. Identity theft
Scammers sometimes use the names of real people and real companies. They even send links to real websites of the people they're pretending to be. Be sure to check the email addresses they're using - if they don't match with the company they're "representing," you can be sure it's a scam. For example, the email claims to be from a known company, but the email address does not include the original website, like @mtv.com.
5. Casting without an audition
This is a serious red flag moment. Although real projects, on rare occasions, cast models or actors online without meeting them in person, it is more common among scammers to claim they want to hire their “victim” without meeting them online or in person first. If someone is willing to sign your kid immediately for a role regardless of experience or suitability, do question their motives. In this case, always check the offer they are making. Remember, if the offer is too generic with few specific details, it is a definite NO. Remember, it probably is if it looks too good to be true.
6. Good audition rule
Generally, the process of an audition, whether for an acting gig or a modeling project, is swift, especially when the casting is for kid talent. It usually involves filling in some paperwork, handing in your kid’s headshots and resume, and then being called into a casting room, where your kid will audition for not more than 15 minutes. If your kid has been chosen for a job, or for another round of auditions, you’ll get a call. No one will try to sell you anything or force you into anything, and again, there’s no fee to audition.
Here are a few more tips on how to protect yourself
- Check exactly what is required of you and your kid before attending an audition.
- Check the location of the audition. This is a red flag if it's in a hotel or bar or at someone's house.
- Don't be afraid to say "no" to anything that you aren't comfortable doing.
- Always read contracts carefully before signing them.
List of reported scams
Lucas Gray, Amazon Kid Magazine; Allure Magazine; Craig Winston; Edward William; GQ Magazine; Happie Images; Insight Agency; JC Penny Magazine; Jeff Salogar; Lara George; Mallisa Jackson - from "Average Advert"; Frank Clarkson; Fred Ford - "Cafe Press"; Ganza Photo Shoot; Manny Leeman; Michael Chris; Never Ending Casting; Oliver Lowry; Portfolio Photo Team; Rick Cochraine; Steve Morgan
Here's a possible scam scenario:
You've received an email that says that your child has been selected, and a check for $ 1,000 will be sent to you. You'll have to cash it and send $300 back for any setup process (makeup, wardrobe, etc.). This is a classic sign of a scam. DO NOT take any checks or send money to anyone. Remember that you have to be paid by casting directors and not vice-versa. If you think you might be dealing with a scammer or you've already been scammed, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or talk to your local authorities.