Avoiding Fraud and Scams in Fashion Modelling

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Modelling is a covetable job. Combined with the competitive nature of the business and the thousands of young hopefuls desperate for their chance in the spotlight, it makes the fashion modelling industry a prime target for fraud and scams.

Being a victim of fraud can be debilitating. While a lack of knowledge can make you an easier target, many scams are now so advanced they are difficult to detect. That means hopeful models need to be informed and wary when attempting to enter the business in order to protect themselves.

Let’s take a look at the different types of fraud happening in the modelling industry and, more importantly, how you can avoid becoming a victim.

Avoiding Fraud and Scams in Fashion Modelling

Legitimate Vs Fraud Modelling Agencies

There are many legitimate modelling agencies out there – but there are also quite a few scam agencies, too. Their goal is to trick young, impressionable and eager aspiring models.

Most agencies are after money, though a few may be attempting to take advantage of young people in other ways.

When you apply to a modelling agency, make sure to do your research. You do not have to pay any upfront costs, for example a joining fee, to join a real agency. Any agency requesting money upfront is a big red flag and should be avoided.

Do your research and look up the agency’s background before applying. There are certain things that are normal – for example, asking to interview in person, or asking to see your modelling portfolio. Look out for requests that are unusual – like taking photos you are uncomfortable with. No legitimate agency will request topless or nude photos. They may want to see bikini or underwear photos, but only if you are 18+ and unless you are applying to be a glamour model, these photos are purely so they can see your body type. They should not be sexualised photos, and if you feel uncomfortable, you can always say no. Full-body images should be a standard part of your portfolio, so if these are already included, you should not need to send further photos.

You should be extremely cautious with any agency that approaches you on social media. Ask for names and look up the company and people yourself. Don’t use numbers or e-mail addresses provided to you by the person in contact; they could very likely be fake. A real agency will be more than happy to verify a person’s employment.

Look out for unprofessional messages that include terms of endearment such as ‘honey’ and ‘babe’. You are after a business contract, not a date, so any comments such as ‘you’re so sexy’ are very likely from a scam artist. If you are ever in doubt about a person’s authenticity, do not send them any personal information. Report the account and block them.

If you are invited to meet an agency in person, you can take a friend or family member with you for safety. It is highly recommended you tell someone of your whereabouts, and what time you are expected to be back. If you are under 16, you are legally required to bring a guardian. Read as much as you can about the agency before visiting; the more information you have, the better equipped you will be and the more sure you will be that it is a legitimate establishment.

Fake Scouts

Scouts are people who work for agencies who “scout”, or approach, people in public who they think could be potentially good models. Many top supermodels were scouted.

A scout may approach you in public and tell you they work for a certain agency. This should be easy enough to verify; call the agency and ask for confirmation.

You may be given a card with a website and contact number on it. Ignore these and find the real contact information online, just to be certain.

A scout may list a certain agency as their employer, but they could be lying. Always double-check. More advanced scam artists may have invented a whole agency themselves. If a scout claims to work for an agency you have never heard of, do lots of research online and try to find some legitimate reviews.

No agency will ever ask for contact details or banking information online. Be very cautious, do your research and be 100% certain they are legitimate before proceeding.

Scam Photographers

A model doesn’t require many items to start their career, but a model’s portfolio is perhaps the most important tool they will require. A portfolio will include up to 20 high-quality modelling photos to show off the model’s appearance and experience; it’s a bit like a CV and cover letter application all rolled into one.

A strong portfolio will certainly help a model be more memorable. However, there are many con photographers out there who know this and are looking to take advantage of aspiring models.

Always ask to see a photographer’s previous work before agreeing to work with them. You should also look closely at the contract and carefully agree exactly what you expect from them – how many photos, how much it will cost, where these can be used, in what format you will receive them, and whether they will include editing. Make sure this is all agreed upon in advance on paper, or you could end up with extra payments to make.

Fake Casting Calls

A casting call is a type of interview. Open casting calls are regularly held by agencies in an attempt to discover potential models.

Unfortunately, scam artists have taken to hosting fake casting calls. These may be advertised alongside legitimate casting calls, which can usually be found in newspapers or online. Always call the named agency and verify that the casting call is real, because casting calls are usually quite rare. A legitimate casting call will not happen outside work hours, and you should always be sure to bring a friend or relative for safety.

It is prohibited by law to charge upfront fees for a casting call, so if you are asked to pay money to apply, walk away. If you are promised a portfolio or work, this is also a lie. A legitimate casting call is like an interview and no fake promises will be made; they will simply give you an opportunity to show off your portfolio and walk, you will have a brief discussion, and that will be that. You will hear back in a week or two about whether they are interested.

Online Scams

Another common scam seen in modelling is a fake agency that tries to sell you space on their website or social media accounts. Again, no reputable agency does business in this way. If you are signed to a legitimate agency, you will be featured on their website – you don’t have to pay a penny because they make their money via the brands who pay to hire you, the model.

Don’t be coerced by false promises. It is extremely hurtful to be promised your dream career only to realise it is a scam, but ultimately you will be far better off disbelieving anything that sounds too good to be true from the off because then at least you will avoid the scams. It is a good idea to treat new companies and people with a certain amount of suspicion, at least until you have verified they are legitimate on your own.

Are you interested in becoming a model? We are a modelling support agency that can help you take your first steps into the industry. Why not register today and see if you have what it takes!


  1. [email protected] on May 15, 2023 at 12:41 am

    I need to join a modeling

  2. Menti John Achah on May 19, 2023 at 11:41 am

    Hey good day I’m Menti,
    Just wanna say I will be very happy to become a professionnel model with your help,
    This has always be my dream but I didn’t know how to go about it I really hope this will take me somewhere and I will be very happy to do what I love to do
    Thanks a lot for this opportunity.

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