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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Craigslist Alert: Spotting a Scam

Modeling scams have been around forever but being an avid Internet user I have noticed that certain ones tend to come in waves--they disappear for a while then all of a sudden pop back up. For models searching for work using sites like Craigslist, I just wanted to point out a recent scam I came across in the hopes of preventing anyone from falling prey.

If you're already familiar with this particular scam then you're already ahead of the game but if not, please check out this post and be on the lookout (also let your other fellow models know in case they aren't aware).

Needless to say, Craigslist has gone downhill pretty fast over the past few years. Although there are still a few legitimate modeling opportunities to be found in the "Talent" section under the "Gigs" category, many are simply crap disguised as a potential modeling assignment. Perhaps what I dislike the most about searching for modeling gigs on Craigslist lately is the huge amount of posts asking for modeling services but not willing to pay.

Even despite stating that the work would gain a lot of exposure and the people involved have won awards, are well known, etc., monetary payment is nowhere in the picture. That being said, when I do come across posts that offer payment to models, it definitely catches my attention.

The most recent post I came across that was offering pay for looking for models to participate in a fashion show for a newly launched clothing line. The show was scheduled for December and the models would be paid $375 each for the day of the show, including prep time and rehearsals. Not bad, right? So I sent an email of interest and the next day received a reply that they were interested in working with me.

So far so good, right? The email they sent me explained that they have had problems in the past with booking models that later never showed up for work. As a result they now ask for a $5 deposit, which is given back to the model the day of the show. Of course that was the first red flag. The email went on to say that a short online form would need to be filled out and that the $5 could be paid online as well.

I clicked on the link they sent and was taken to the online form, which asked for my name, mailing address and contact information. Additionally, they had a payment section of the form, which asked for the following information:

- Credit card type (VISA, Mastercard, etc.)
- Full credit card number
- CVC code (the three digit code on the back of the card)
- Expiration date
- Billing Address

Not only did I not like the fact that they forced people to enter a credit/debit card number (no PayPal or other safer online payment option was offered), the site itself was not a secured one. How could I tell? If you've ever purchased something online, you've probably noticed that the payment page URL contained "https" instead of the regular "http". Without that little "s" in the beginning of the URL, any financial information you enter can easily be stolen by someone.

I didn't fill out the form and instead replied back to the email asking if there was a PayPal option I could use instead since their payment page wasn't secured. No reply...and I don't expect one, either. Later I entered the email address associated with the message I received into Google and came across other Craigslist posts with the same modeling assignment, spawning different states in the U.S. and many were flagged and removed because they were identified as scams.

The bottom line: be super diligent about checking out posts on Craigslist that seem too good to be true. Do online searches using any information that the post provides and see what turns up. If it is a scam, chances are other people have caught them in the lie and have posted about it on the Internet. Second, you shouldn't have to pay a deposit in order to be booked for work. It just doesn't make sense.

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