Other > Guides

How to spot modelling scams

Robin Bowman

Robin Bowman
Jul 5, 2016

As with any apparently glamorous world, there are plenty of people who want to break into modelling –for the fame, the money and the exotic lifestyle.

And there are also plenty of people out there only too willing to prey on the ignorance of others and part them from their hard-earned cash.

Don’t be taken in. Guard against the scams.

Actually, the way to protect yourself is easy. 

The difficulty is not allowing a dream to get a hold of you and cause you to act irrationally.

Parents need to be especially guarded and not allow their desire to always do the best by their children dazzle them with unrealistic expectations – because there are plenty of people who will look to leverage this, believe us!

OK, so here’s how to ensure you do not become a victim.


Do your research

Find out lots and lots (and then some more) about the world you aspire to.

Do not just type modelling into Google and contact whatever site comes up. This is playing Russian Roulette with the money in your pocket.

You simply can’t arm yourself with too much information about modelling, whether it’s fashion modelling, child modelling or fitness modelling, whatever area you are interested in.  

The same applies to any company you consider contacting.

Find out as much as you can about them, look them up on A Spokesman Said and read any and every review; see how long they’ve operated for and think carefully about what it is they say they can do.

We’d also say this: be wary of any modelling agency site that doesn’t have at least a small section offering advice on scams and rips offs. All reputable companies will warn wannabe models of the dangers out there.


Road silhouette


Never pay for anything upfront 

If you have modelling potential and an agency says you do, ask yourself this: why would they ask you to pay for anything upfront? 

Surely, they would be eager to sign you up and take a cut of your vast earnings – which is a perfectly reasonable thing to do?  

This applies to test shots, registration fees and money to help you build a portfolio.


Scam portfolios

And a word about….scam portfolios…

Well, two actually.  

One, a session in a studio producing dozens of shots is not a portfolio and will not be taken seriously by a reputable agency. A portfolio shows a wide range of very diverse shots and is built up over time.  

Two, a makeover followed by a session in a studio won’t land you work. There’s nothing wrong with doing this for a bit of fun, but it’s not what genuine agencies want to see and will be of no interest to them.



The portfolio scam

This is, without doubt, the commonest one we see.

You go to the studio, have a load of pictures taken and everything seems very professional, at least to the uninitiated.

You are then subjected to an often high-pressure sales pitch aimed at getting you to hand over huge amounts of cash to own the photos as a portfolio.

But as we said above, this is not a portfolio – or ‘book’ as it’s known.  A real one is built up slowly, and is definitely not shot by only one photographer during one session.

Any shots taken like this should be free or certainly only require a very modest fee. A reputable agency doesn’t need this kind of photo to see whether you have potential.


How do I know if I've been scammed?

If, despite taking all the precautions you can, you find yourself in this position and wondering if you’ve landed in a scam, you’ll soon know.  

At some point shortly after the photo shoot, someone will tell you how well it all went, how there’s a whole load of work just waiting to be picked up, and all you have to do is buy the photos. 

They’ll probably imply they’re offering you a special, never-to-be repeated deal. The tactics might vary, but you’ll soon spot their objective – to get you to pay before you walk out the door.


Just do not allow yourself to be persuaded under any circumstances, no matter what the sales person says or how convincing they seem.

If you do this, you’ll beat the scam.


Modelling competitions

What a great way in! Enter a competition and delightedly you find you’re a winner.  

Think again.

This modelling competition is very often one in which there are lots of ‘winners’. 

Of course, if you really believe you’ve won a competition, then the scammers are 90% of the way there.

All they need to do now is get you into the studio for a glamorous shoot and persuade you to shell out large amounts for the photos.

There’ll be many other scams out there, agencies that aren’t agencies at all, ones that promise the earth and ones that boast of previous successes that are false, hosting services that have no industry contacts and so on. 

The list is endless.

The antidote to all these money-grabbers, though, is: DO YOUR RESEARCH, BE SCEPTICAL ABOUT EVERYTHING, and don’t HAND OVER YOUR MONEY on the basis of a promise of future success.

If you want to see how other people have ended up regretting not following these rules, check out some tales here.

Or, if you've been caught out, warn others by sharing your experience on A Spokesman Said.

Did you find this guide useful? You can share it on Twitter and Facebook using the buttons at the top. 


A Spokesman Said offers price comparison in energy, insurance and broadband that could save you hundreds.