Aspiring models are being warned following reports that scammers may be targeting them via online adverts in a bid to defraud them.
Action Fraud, the UK’s fraud and cyber-crime reporting centre, has received reports of fraudsters setting up fake adverts on social media (including Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp) and job browsing websites to dupe people into believing they are recruiting for prospective models.
Once a victim shows interest in the modelling jobs, fraudsters contact victims on the false promise of a career and ask them to come in for a test photo shoot.
The fraud is then carried out in two ways;
1. Fraudsters pressurise victims into sending an upfront fee to book a slot for the test shoot. Once they have received the upfront fee, the victim will never hear from the fraudsters again.
2. Fraudsters will take the advance fee that the victim sends for a photo shoot and arrange a photo shoot with the victim. After the photo shoot, the fraudsters will contact the victim after a few days and convince them that their shoot was successful and offer them a job as a model.
The victim will then be asked to sign a contract and pay another upfront fee, usually to secure the modelling contract.
In August 2017, 49 victims lost an average of £1,448 each to this type of advance fee fraud.
Fraudsters are also creating fake adverts for supposed modelling opportunities for children which do not exist. Fraudsters will inform parents or guardians that a potential career in modelling awaits their child.
This tactic convinces the parent or guardian to sign up their child and send an advance fee.
The suspects will also convince the victim that in order to become a model, they will need to have a portfolio. The fraudsters will recommend a number of packages and stress that if a package is not paid for in advance, the process of becoming a model cannot continue.
Over the past two years, an average of 28 reports of advance fee modelling frauds were reported to Action Fraud, with 49 reports in AUgust alone showing that the practice may be on the rise. The total loss in August 2017 alone was over £71,000.
Tips for staying safe:
Carry out your own research prior to paying any type of advance or upfront fee.
Be wary if you are asked to pay for a portfolio, as many legitimate agencies will cover that cost.
Don’t give your bank account details or sensitive information to anyone without carrying out your own research on the relevant agency.
If you have been affected by this, or any other type of fraud, report it to Action Fraud - https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/contact-us.