Model scouts scams and model agency spotter scams
A spotter or a scout is somebody, who works for an agency. It is their job to find new faces in the streets. It is not always that easy to tell a genuine spotter from a pretend one, but there are some clues and tell-tale signs.
It works like this: You are approached in a public place by a stranger, who probably sticks some ID card in your face and tells you that you could be a model. The stranger then invites you to visit a particular model agency. They may well pretend to work for a well-known agency.
This public place is usually a very busy shopping street or similar. The spotter is usually a female, sometimes there are two. Genuine spotters tend to prefer places, where they can find suitable candidates of the desired age. The High Street and shopping malls are not their usual hunting grounds. They also tend to come in pairs, boy and girl, but this is a soft rule.
They will then tell you for which agency they work, probably ask whether you have heard of them and may ask your permission to take a snapshot of you.
This is where the similarities end. Genuine agencies will ask you to contact them and if and when you do, they will invite you to an interview, which will be followed up with a test shoot if they liked you. At that point, they will also tell you to take time and think about it. They will never put you under any pressure or try to persuade you. If you are under-age, they will insist on a parent accompanying you.
Not so genuine agencies take a somewhat different route: They will try to dazzle you with their address in a posh part of town. This is supposed to impress you and add credibility and reputation to their claims.
Often, they will also tell you that their photographer has photographed just about every pop icon and famous model but is taking a break from the demands of celebritydom, during which he does something else, i.e. model portfolios. Not likely.
There will be much persuasion and pressure to get you to their studio, including claims that you are under no obligation and that everything is entirely free.
Genuine agencies do not immediately produce a portfolio for you. They do a test shoot to see how you come across in pictures and only after contracts have been signed will they produce marketing shots - at their own expense, not yours.
At some point, probably not in the street but when you arrive at their offices, a not so genuine agency will tell you that you need a portfolio. They may tell you that the shoot is free or charge a fee that is refundable if you turn up. Only after the shoot will you find out that you have to pay for the images from the shoot. If you decline, they tend to get angry and apply a lot of pressure.
Cardinal rule is that you, the model, never pay money to an agency. Genuine model agencies find you work and make their money by taking a cut, not by charging you for a portfolio, registration or other "services".
The spotter was not a genuine spotter but a sales agent, who has been instructed to lie to you. The model agency is not a real model agency - their only business is to sell aspiring models a portfolio. The scam is called a model portfolio scam. The sale may come with what sounds like the promise of work.
Don't fall for this trick. Get out fast and inform the police or trading standards.
In this section:
What makes Wolf Kettler Photographer different to the average photographer.
See examples of Wolf's work in the photography portfolio.
All about the photo sessions, services, products and prices.
Find out about modelling opportunities with Wolf.
See more photography and get inside information.