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How to Spot Modeling Scams

These days, it’s so easy to make yourself appear legitimate online. Unfortunately, anyone can easily create a professional-looking website and social media page, so it’s much harder to verify the real from the fake. As a model, you are responsible for doing your research to ensure that the agency meetings, booking, and photoshoot requests you receive are with a real agency/company/person and that you’re not getting scammed or putting yourself into a potentially dangerous situation. In this post, I’ll go over a few ways to spot scams.

Photo by Cameron Story

The most common way models receive booking requests is via email, either from their agents or directly from the client. The easiest way to spot a scammy email is to check the sender’s email address. If the person sending the email claims to be from a large company, they will not be sending you an email from an @gmail.com, @yahoo.com, etc. email address. If it is a large company, the email address will be from an @companyname.com type of email address. The second way to spot a scammy email is how they address who the email is to. If they say something like “Dear miss/sir”, or “Dear model”, or something gross like “hey sexy”, it is a dead giveaway that the email is not legitimate.

If both of those items seem ok, pay close attention to the body of the email. If there are spelling and grammar mistakes, misuse of the English language, a sense of urgency (“Please respond ASAP”), or they’re promising to pay large sums of money, you can guarantee it’s a scam email.


Lastly, look at the signature of the email. All professionals have an email signature that provides information such as a logo, company name, website link, social media page links, phone number, and address. It is likely to be a scam if there is none of that information.


If you have an agency and you receive a direct email from someone wanting to book you for a project, the easiest way to handle it is to forward it to your agent. They can then reach out to them and flush out if it’s a legitimate request.


Another way models get contacted for potential bookings is through social media DM’s. If someone slides into your DM’s claiming to be an agency or saying they want to book you for a job, the first line of business before you even respond is to find out if they’re really who they are claiming to be. Creating a legitimate-looking social media page is easy, so you have to dig to verify everything.


If you are DM’d on social media by someone claiming to be an agency or agency scout, the best thing to do before ever responding to them is to look up and contact the actual agency and verify it is a real message. Don’t use the link in the messenger’s bio, as it could go to a fake page. Instead, do an internet search of the agency and find their verified website. Let them know you received a DM via social media and want to verify its authenticity. If you can’t find a webpage, that’s your confirmation that the agency is fake.


Another way to verify if an agency is legitimate is to do a deep dive into their social media profile. Do they have the agency information and website link listed in their bio? Where does that link take you when you click it? How many followers do they have? How many posts do they have, and how long ago was the first one posted? Are they tagging the models, style teams, and brands in the posts? These are things to look at when attempting to verify an account.


While it’s not entirely unheard of- agencies rarely reach out to models on social media, even if that’s where they first see them.


Contacting models via DM is a very common way for photographers to reach out to models to set up shoots, so in that case, it’s not always a red flag. You just need to verify that the photographer is who they say they are by following the same steps mentioned above. Also, check out their work to see if it’s even a photographer you want to work with. If their feed is full of boudoir or implied nudes, and that’s not something you’re into shooting, it’s probably best to pass on working with them.


If you’re an agency-represented model and receive a DM from a photographer or someone claiming they want to book you for a job, the best thing for you to do is to respond with your agency’s contact information and instruct them to contact your agent for any bookings.


Always be alert and on the lookout for potential scams or things that could put you in an unsafe situation. Never give out personal information, meet up with anyone you don’t know alone, send anyone payment for anything, or send photos (especially in suggestive poses, lingerie, or nudes). Even when it comes to open calls at agencies and casting calls for things like runway shows, ALWAYS verify their legitimacy before going.


Unfortunately, the modeling industry is full of scam artists ready to take advantage of those who don’t know better or are too eager to get into the industry. Always do your research. If it sounds too good to be true- it probably is.



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