SCAMS, Non-Legit So-called Agencies, and other shenanigans.

This page is dedicated to identifying and avoiding scams for all those who are courageously searching and digging in all corners of the Interwebs for job opportunities.

Real productions communicate short and sweet. Not long and drawn out, or telling you ALL your job responsibilities. IN fact, real productions figure you KNOW your responsibilities. You also WILL NOT handle money in production. The only exception is petty cash and that will happen in a production office, and you will sign out for that money. You NEVER spend your own money or handle cashiers checks. You NEVER withdraw any of your own money to pay for production.

Finally, no one hires anyone over the internet to do office work. It all happens in a production office, that has a physical address. But they can even grab a real address and make it seem like they are shooting there. Well, real productions STILL have an office they use for pre-production and you can physically go there and meet the Producer, Production manager and coordinators. You will find as soon as you say, Oh I’ll stop over to meet you, you’ll never hear from them again.

In the video below, I am reading a scam post that one of my mentorship people came across.

You’ll hear me take a certain tone in the video. I am sickened by the ridiculousness of the scams and many of my people have gotten hurt by them in the past. I’m hoping everyone will study this, and know that it is BS when we see anything similar to these scams.

SCAMS, Non-Legit So-called Agencies, and other shenanigans. This page is dedicated to identifying and avoiding scams for all those who are courageously searching and digging in all corners of the Interwebs for job opportunities. Real productions communicate short and sweet. Not long and drawn out, o

TIP 1: GOOGLE THEIR CREDENTIALS

Ariana S.

Hey Folks!

I just got an email from the site, Media-Match.com for a PA job offer.

It’s a scam. I googled the name of the person in the email (there were no accurate results about him and his credentials).

Here’s the email below:

Janet

$400 daily?! It would be hard to look away, huh? That’s what they want.

$200/day or maybe $250 is normal. Good job on the research!!!

Janet

Also, when do they ever say “your services” in a professional shoot? NEVER!

TIP 2: BE WARY OF NON LEGIT AGENCIES

Leaf B
Leaf B.

I need some advice: I submitted my “want to work” email to an ad on craigslist that was looking for people for a Kohls print ad, since I figured even a professional commercial photo shoot would need a PA and I might meet someone there.

They just called me today and said that they got my email but like my picture (the one in the email) so much that they wanted to submit it for the actual print ad.

It would pay super well and all my travel expenses would be covered and on top of that they like my look so much they want to represent me to do other modeling and eventually acting if I wanted to do that (which eventually I do).

I checked them out and they seem pretty legit, with some pretty good access to the kind of shows and movies I want to do.

They approached me about representation, not the other way around. They also said they do not require a contract so if I want out at any time I can get out.

Janet
Janet

It doesn’t sound right to me.

A professional agency is using CL? Unusual.

They are promising the world…

Remember, you never pay for representation. Check this out.

SCAMS, Non-Legit So-called Agencies, and other shenanigans. This page is dedicated to identifying and avoiding scams for all those who are courageously searching and digging in all corners of the Interwebs for job opportunities. Real productions communicate short and sweet. Not long and drawn out, o
Leaf B
Leaf B.

The woman on the phone was telling me how using the internet to find acting jobs isn’t going to get me much paid work and how the industry is so word of mouth.

She said that they wanted me to register with their site so they could send my pictures in for the Kohls print ad and that the fee was $24.00 a month.

She emailed me a link to the website and said to contact her when I had completed the registration so they could go over what kind of pictures I should have in my portfolio.

In the email they said they are proud of their BBB rating (better business bureau. they search out scam businesses) I checked the BBB site and it said that while they were not accredited, they did have an A+ rating. I don’t know what to do with this information.

I looked more at the BBB page and it says they’ve been a company since 2010, that no reports have ever been filed against them, no complaints either, and all the stuff on there about payment and canceling payment is what they told me themselves.

Janet
Janet

That doesn’t mean much.

If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.

So what do they want from you?

Isabel
Isabel C.

It might just be me, but they sound a little off. In terms of the modeling, most agents who are interested in you will not have you pay up front because they think you have the right look to make THEM money.

They shouldn’t need you to pay them because they make money off the work you do.

Maybe contact those models who are on their site and what kind of work they are getting.

Janet
Janet

There is no reason for a real agency to talk about how proud they are of their BBB rating.

Leaf B
Leaf B.

You are right. Good thing I thought to ask first. I wasn’t sure how the whole “representation by agents” thing worked so when they asked for a monthly fee up front I thought it better to ask, just in case. Thanks Janet and Isabel!

Janet
Janet

Very smart of you! Can you post the website to that agency here? I’d like to see what looks legit to you.

Nicole S
Nicole S.

Leaf B. yes this is a scam! I’ve been a model in and out of the business since I was 10 years old. Craigslist is used mainly for ultra low budget stuff or scams.

They want you to join their website and pay a monthly fee to put your “pic up for agents to see” it’s BS.

And mostly for any model work, an agent will want to meet with you to take pics and do measurements and discuss either signing exclusive or non-exclusive. They never discuss too much over the phone it’s more like “great headshot I’d like to schedule a meeting for this and this” they’ll never try to sell themselves to you.

Please take precautions on anything on CL.

Amy G
Amy G.

Agreed! I have an agent and they never once asked for money. What they should ask you for is you work. A real agent will want to see you act and see your headshots. You are there to make them money so they will thoroughly check out their investment.

I have heard of, and had experience with, legitimate agents referring actors to photographers to get new headshots because the ones they have are out of date. In which case, you have to pay the photographer. That’s the only situation I can think of that you would have to spend money before representation.

Leaf B
Leaf B.

As soon as I saw the testimonial page and saw how scripted they all sounded that I was certain this was fake. Seriously, if they are going to do video testimonials, get some bettor actors!

Casting247.net

Janet
Janet

A name like casting247? Where are their offices? Can you go in for a meeting?

It’s a conglomerate site, that sells monthly subscriptions to people nationwide, hoping they forget about the monthly charge.

Hey, it’s big business, as they have people scanning CL and also calling people personally! They have all the logos, they are trying to sell you big time.

Here’s your assignment Leaf, if you are up to learning big time, and contributing to all of us. ;-)))

Go to your magic list and find a real agency. Look at their site, go through every section of their site and see the wording, see the lack of logos, etc. Give us the url of the real agency.

And then go through the casting247 site and see the difference.

Can you write down the big differences you see?

That will be very helpful for others to see a list.

The logos, the scripted testimonials, the monthly fee, the wording like “You have taken your first step towards an exciting and rewarding new career….” There may be 50 differences.

And it will be awesome to see a website of a real agency too, what that looks like.

Call your film commission and ask them what is the biggest agency for background work… and then ask them what is the biggest agency for principal casting. See if they give you names.

Leaf B
Leaf B.

I went to empirecasting.com to compare it to casting247.net

The first thing I noticed on the REAL site, empirecasting.com was the lack of pictures of models or adverts with “you could be making this kind of money!” numbers on them. They weren’t trying to sell me a dream.

I looked at some of their credits. They did casting for Point Break.

When I went to their “About” page to compare the two I noticed that while Casting247 boasted “one of the largest, most diverse casting databases available” they did not say what it was.

They had several paragraphs of how they were all about using technology to make getting jobs easy and then one paragraph about how users could make a portfolio and have exclusive this and exclusive that.

Empire Casting had three concise sentences about what they were and how their talent was verified, then three bullet point lists of amenities like “audition studio in house” and “complete knowledge of SAG/AFTRA contracts” and “exclusive to EMS Payroll for all projects.”

Casting247 had no “contact us” page.

Empire Casting had the phone numbers on their CA, GA, and NY offices and though the physical addresses weren’t listed on their website, the GA one was listed on the film commission webpage

The last big thing I want to mention was the Casting247 testimonial page. Not only did they feel they needed one, but it was all videos of people clearly reciting from a script. I mean, if you are going to have live videos, hire some decent actors if you want to be believable.

Jake T
Jake T.

So helpful having the comparison of the two sites! Thanks for this Leaf!

Janet
Janet

That really really rocks. Really proud of you. What a service you’ve done for us, and now you can also let others know what to look for.

“Get it factor” all the way!

TIP 3: IF THEY WANT YOU TO SEND THEM MONEY, RUN!

Rustam P.

Hey Janet,

Got this email response from a posting on Craigslist. Just wanted to check it looks legit. Let me know your thoughts, thanks!

Janet

1. Why would anyone say,

“I’m sure you’ll understand I tend to have a very busy schedule at this point.”

What that is supposed to do it INTIMIDATE you into not asking questions. They are priming you to “do whatever they without questioning”.

2. Also, producers don’t look for PAs.

A real producer would have their production manager talk to you. The producer is too busy with the creative of the shoot.

A production manager would want to have a good member on their team so good communication would be important. They would be friendly and give you their phone number and email. Make sense?

3. They explain the position is not location based. WHY?

They hope you’ll think, “OK, it makes sense that I’m here in Seattle and they are shooting in Los Angles. What do I know, maybe that’s the way film works! OK!”

4. Chores? I have never heard that term used in production. hahahahaha!

5. Look at the run on sentences. Doesn’t sound like a professional or intelligent person… or even someone from this country!

They say,

“I’m confident you can take up the challenge and on the long run we should have a relatively sound working relationship between us. I am glad you are willing to work with me and i promise to be a good boss.”

Really? They are not from the US, c’mon!!! :-)

6. They say,

“I have been checking my files and what i would want you to do for me next week is to do shopping for production equipment/printing materials that will be used at the location of the production”

They have been checking their FILES???

Of course, they are getting you ready to shop, ahhh, we are talking MONEY now… ah, They are getting you used to spending some money.

And for PRINTING MATERIALS used on set? Every Production manager already has a $300 printer, so they need PRINTERS? Ridiculous.

Bottom line, you would NEVER pull out your own money for a shoot. They would give you petty cash, IN PERSON. You never, ever use your own money on a shoot. OK?

7. They say,

“The Check will be mail to you from my Client next week—who is the executive producer–,although the money is needed to get some tools needed for the production. “

AHHH, the CHECK again! Now we are talking! The scam comes into full view!

And of course they are sending it to you, but soon you’ll be sending the money to them in a cashiers check… and their cashiers check will not clear.

8. Have you ever heard of production working this way? Where they send you a check and you deduct part of it for your pay? You NEED to be around production more to understand how ridiculous this is.

OHHH, this makes MY BLOOD BOIL!!!

9. They say,

“I await your mail”

They always speak in the most ridiculous way… but soon they will get smart and you won’t be able to tell as easily.

Anyway there you go. Thank you for the excellent example of a scam.

Consuelo S.

The past couple of weeks hit me hard with financial difficulties. I ended up the victim of a scam. It was a mystery shopper scam online. It was similar to the example you showed us today. The wording was similar. The name of the person was Anita McNeal.

They sent me a check which was fraudulent and I deposited and sent it via money gram. By the time I found out, I was out 1500 bucks.

Janet

Oh interesting. So, how did they get you to send money to them via money gram?!

Consuelo S.

They made it as a secret shopper. You take the money they send you, cash it but through your bank. You then pay in cash to two separate addresses minus the 200 for your feedback. Then you are to send a report.

Janet

Thank you for explaining this. You didn’t know the check bounced until a few days later and by that time you had already taken the money out in cash to send via money gram?

Is that accurate? And they had some reasoning for the urgency to do the moneygram quickly (before the check bounced?) What did they say?

Consuelo S.

They offered a bonus for a “timely” report on the customer service.

Janet

I see. They make it all make sense. Thanks for sharing that.

Racheal B.

Hey Guys,

So I got an email a few days ago, I have been emailing this person back and forth about a modeling job and I felt a little funny about it, but then I just received this response from them, and now I defenintely feel like it is a scam. They said they were going to mail me $500 before they even met me, before the photo shoot and then I receive this last response…

It seems strange, and I don’t know how/or if I should even respond to this email.

Thanks!

Janet

There is no doubt about it, it is a scam!

Don’t respond. It won’t stop them, and it does nothing does it? The best thing you could do, is show this to all of us! I’m putting this in the training!

Racheal B.

I also thought it was strange that he’s a photographer but doesn’t use social media to promote? Neither does the designer he named. I couldn’t find them in Google or in any search engine I used… they didn’t exist!

Janet

The biggest clue is they are concocting a way for you to send them money. Ridiculous.

Bitcoin Scam

James T.

I had some issues with finances and my survival job.

I eventually got to the point where I wrote everything on paper and realized, “I got this!”. Unfortunately, I made a HUGE mistake early on in my career and fell for a bitcoin Scam.

The company sent me an email stating they were going to fly me out to California, all expenses paid for, and forwarded a cashiers check in mail stating it was for wardrobe. I deposit the check in the bank, without hesitating, hoping for the best. The company said in their email it was for a crypto currency Bitcoin mining commercial and out of respect to the company they were working with, they would be using Bitcoin for everything. The fictional company then instructed me to withdrawal funds and purchase Bitcoin with an account they made for me. I did as instructed and then silence, the company robbed me. I had been saving up to get back in the program and then I was suddenly owing my bank 4,800 dollars, or close to it.

I was devastated. I was finally getting to where I wanted to be – meeting new people on set, finding work as an actor, and then suddenly all my funds were gone, I was owing my bank money. I had no idea what I was going to do or how I was going to make ends meet.

After several phone calls with my bank, I had sent the case in for investigation with my banks fraud team. The banks couldn’t do anything. Since I withdrew funds, I was held liable.

I had a horrible sinking feeling in my stomach. It seemed like my life was ruined. I felt hopeless, helpless, and just plain stupid. I had ignored the warning signs and was paying the penalty of it.

The following week, I spent days calling the bank and going over my options. I eventually took a few loans out to consolidate the debt. I am finally starting to recover and get everything back together again. Luckily, I still have a job and I’m still in the process of paying off my overdrawn bank account. I had to use a completely different bank while all of this was going on, but I never gave up hope and I kept moving forward and did the best I could.

TIP 4: SOME SCAMS ARE using the info of LEGIT people and COMPANIES!

Luke C.

Hey everyone.

Can you all help me out. I was given a photo production opportunity from a studio to shoot a photo in Las Vegas. I wanted to get feedback if this is a scam or not. Here is the email…….

Here is the contract I was sent. Help me out! I did check out the website of the company. It is real.

I want help to see if it real or a scam!

FIF Mentor Melissa L.M.

I think it could be a scam. I’d ask Janet Urban but law firms? You issuing reimbursement payments seems as though that’d be a Finance/Payroll Responsibility. Also, that’s quite a bit of money for such a short shoot.

Anytime I’ve been contacted it’s NOT a lengthy an email.

A real job asks, “Are you available for all dates?”, followed by a 10-15 minute phone call for the rest of the details. My opinion is that it’s a scam…

Janet

Yes, first of all, you are in Florida. Why are they putting out on the internet they need someone when they are in Vegas? There are plenty of professionals in Vegas, and if you are a professional, you’d know them, not need to make all this work to list all this stuff INCLUDING THE SCHEDULE (LOL!) and try to entice someone to fly over.

Also, law firms? What? It’s all ridiculous. Just ridiculous.

They may use someone’s name who is a real person. They may have a real address. The scams are supposed to look real. But only to people who don’t know any better.

I do. We do. We actually already talked about this scam in an earlier post.

Why do you think it’s not a scam?

Janet

Good point Melissa. She’s right on, on all her points. Where is the phone number? Call them up and discuss the shoot! Ask them why they are advertising nationwide and reaching out to people when there is a ton of people in Vegas?

Janet

I went over this already. What is this?

9am Julien Dossena arrive for Paco Rabanne
9.45am Lydia Maurer arrive for Paco Rabanne

It’s ridiculous!

And 15 minutes for lunch! Ridiculous.

And still life? Whaat?

That’s a painting term.

it’s “product shots” if it’s a commercial.

If not, why would an AGENCY be there? It’s all just wrong.

Joe FIF

It looks nothing like the emails I’ve ever seen for any production shoot that I’ve been on whether is was an indie film, a big budget feature, a photo shoot, a corporate video, documentary, …etc.

There are too many flags in this posting to even consider it to be real. Janet and Melissa covered many of them.

And it is a good point that someone made about them using the names of real people or production companies. They’re fishing for the few people who may do a quick internet search but not followup with the actual company or notice the other errors in the posting. Scammers will use pieces that are real to make their requests seem real.

Its in the backend where they start giving you cashier checks that you don’t find out are fake until you’ve spent money from your account the checks were supposed to have covered.

FIF Mentor Patrick

WARNING ABOUT SCAMMERS

First off, let me say that sites like StaffMeUp and ProductionHub are great tools to find jobs. I’ve gotten to work with “The Rock” and Sacha Baron Cohen thanks to jobs that came through StaffMeUp. They offer plenty of legitimate gigs.

Having said that, a few scammers are using those sites to lure applicants into promising-sounding jobs. This post is not meant to scare anyone. You just need to know the difference between a real job offer and a fake one.

Here is the scam: A mass message is going around, advertising a short film that will be shot in your area, from a company based in India (see example below). Sometimes it’s an email and sometimes a text message. They ask you to email your resume/qualifications. If you reply, they send you a long-winded email, giving a long list of duties. One of your duties may be to run errands prior to their arrival. That is the first red flag! If you accept the job, eventually they will mail you a fake check to put in your bank account.

NEVER accept money from a production company before you meet them in person, and never buy anything for production with your own money! When you are hired for a legit gig, you will probably be asked to do runs and buy items – this is normal – but they will give you petty cash or a company credit card in person. They will never ask you to buy items with a check in the mail before production starts, especially if they have never met you! If they do, it’s probably a scam!

Mayte Avina got contacted about this and they said they were filming in Colorado. Friends in Atlanta, including myself, have gotten the same message, only they used a different name and said they were filming in Georgia. They are targeting everybody.

Here is an example of the first email I got:

It sounds legit at first, but be wary about anyone contacting you through StaffMeUp, out of the blue, when you haven’t applied to any job. That’s not how StaffMeUp works. Typically, they post for a job and you have to submit for the position.

Also, there is no reason for them to ask you for a resume from these job sites. All your credits/qualifications are posted on your StaffMeUp profile page. When hired from a job submission, a production coordinator will call you up (or email you), tell you about the show, and the days you’ll work. Simple as that. They will not ask you to do a “trial period to decide if you are right for the job.” Again, these are all red flags.

Mayte A

Question guys! I received a message from an affiliate recruitment officer for a prod/distribution company based in India. They found me via StaffMeUp which is very cool!

It’s a PA position and I sent them a resume with my experience thus far. They sent me back an email describing themselves and what they do. They would like help with the PreProd process and filming a short. They said it would take 5 weeks here in Colorado which is awesome.

Pay and everything else sounds great. Only thing is they said these would be my duties:

Most of this is DIT work right??? I haven’t done most of this stuff. Would it be hard to learn?

They mentioned that I would be on trial for the first 1-2 weeks and then they would decide if they want to hire me for the entire project.

I’m going to let them know I haven’t done this, but if they are okay with training me then I would be happy to learn.

What do you guys think?

FIF Mentor Patrick

Hmmm, it sounds fishy, like the same email I got, and I’m positive it’s a scam. Did it look like this?…

I’m not saying that the offer you got wasn’t legit, but just be careful. “Handling financiers, running errands prior to our arrival.” Just make sure they don’t ask you to buy anything with your own money. If they do, DON’T do it. Production companies will NEVER ask to you to buy anything before you meet them on set. And they will give you petty cash or credit card to do it.

Mayte A
Mayte A

Thanks! Wow yes FIF MENTOR Patrick , it looks exactly like that. I did google the company and they do have films / music videos. A sparse website, Wikipedia, IMDb credits, etc.

They asked for my address to know where to send over payment for the first week, which is a bit strange? The email was very long and extensive – as you can see by the photos.

Also he says he’s an affiliate, but online it says it’s HIS production company. It does seem strange that it is so close to the email you got?? And the prod companies don’t offer benefits? Red flags for a scam 😕

FIF Mentor Patrick

I’m not sure if it’s the same people. I would just be weary about anyone contacting you through StaffMeUp out of the blue, when you haven’t applied to any job. That’s not how StaffMeUp works. Typically, they post for a job and you have to submit for the position.

Also, there is no reason for them to ask you for a resume. All your credits are posted on your profile page. Normally they contact you after they have decided to hire you. A production coordinator will call you up and talk to you about the show, and the days you’ll work. Simple as that.

This email sounds like a bunch of BS…. “you’ll have a trial period,”… “then we’ll decide if you’re right for the job,” blah, blah, blah.

Janet

Yep, $1200 for 20 hours of work? Ridiculous.

Look, they are looking for someone to bite. Most people have 20 hours free. Most people would find it hard to turn down $1200. And heck, it’s film.

Trial period? Well, that sets you up to do anything they ask, because you want that money working only 20 hours/week!

SCAM all the way!

And like Patrick says, they don’t reach out to you, and the real productions don’t have a trial. YOU WORK IN THE OFFICE on real productions. NEVER REMOTELY!!!!