Model Scams

Do you or your child have dreams of being a star? If so, beware of modeling and talent scams.

You've seen the ads in the newspaper or magazines. They claim they are looking for "all types of models" or "no experience necessary." But before you rush out to get your photos taken, make sure you are not being taken.

"Everybody's got dreams. Stars in their eyes," Michael Shortt from the Talent Source told WTOC. Shortt sees the dreamers walk into his office every day. "You get all ages, all colors, all sizes, all shapes," he said.

Back in 1987, Shortt started The Talent Source, coming off the heels of the movie "Glory" filming in Savannah. In 20 years, he's seen it all, including the model scams.

"They're preying on your desire to be famous and something you can't be. Filling you with false hopes and ideas," Shortt said. "A lot of people have aspirations beyond their capabilities."

Shortt says most scams start with a newspaper ad. "The general call is they are looking for everybody. That's the number one warning sign," Shortt said. "every job doesn't look for everybody."

Here are some more red flags on modeling scams. Besides the dreaded classified ad, Shortt says avoid casting and modeling calls at hotels.

"Never go to a casting call at a hotel. You need to deal with people who are in town. As I told my mothers, you want people who you can grab around the neck," he said. "typically, they'll have a room full of 400 people and they'll get rid of 2/3 of the people, to make the suckers feel special. We like you."

Also, avoid agencies who charge up front fees or require you to take classes from them. "If they ask for money up front, run. If they make you use a certain photographer or photograph, run. If they make you take a class, run. If they want you to go to a convention first, run," he said.

Finally, if the agency is putting pressure on you to sign or guarantees work and a high salary, chances are, it's a scam.

"There are no guarantees in this business at all, like there is no asteroid hitting Earth tomorrow. Not gonna happen," Shortt said.

Your best bet is to check an agency out with the Better Business Bureau first and be aware of these warning signs.

Ten years ago, Senator Regina Thomas, then a state representative, along with Michael Shortt, proposed stricter guidelines for alleged talent agents operating in Georgia.

An agent doesn't need a license. Shortt is hoping state lawmakers revisit the issue as the governor's office has issued this modeling scam warning ('>source)