Avoid acting scams and casting call scams
The best way to avoid casting scams is to know how to tell the difference between what is real and what is complete BS.
Scammers are everywhere and they always tend to prey on people who are looking to break into showbiz or any other high in demand field. Keeping yourself from getting caught up means learning the difference between what is real and what is not.
There are many acting scams around and I’ll go through the most popular.
The fake casting call
This one works by listing popular shows and telling people that the show is casting. The casting info such as phone number and and contact detail is missing and what they pretty much tell you to do is ‘click here to apply’. When you click the link, you do not go to a production companies casting site, but rather to an information gatherer. The truth is that the casting is fake and they are trying to get info to sell to 3rd parties. Once they get your info they forward it to a scammy company which has their telemarketers call you to tell you they will make you a star if you pay them. This is a classic bait and switch. They have nothing to do with the casting and are completely lying just to get your contact info. Their sales people are commissioned and will tell you anything to get you to give them your credit card information including telling you they actually are casting shows.
How to spot these:
When you click the link it redirects to another site asking you to create a profile without asking any specific info about the casting call you responded to. It is all very generic. They will call you later and not even know what casting you were interested in but they will tell you there are many jobs available for people like you. Don’t believe it. There are companies that created fake castings for every show on TV just to trap you. Real production companies provide an email address with clear requirements and submission rules, such as must be a US citizen over 18 and so on. The scammers have no requirements because they want as many people as possible. They will attempt to sell online portfolios, photo shoots, worthless classes and anything else they can sucker you into by playing on your quest for fame.
Nigerian casting scams and fake checks:
Many people get suckered into these. They start with a fake casting call that they get your contact info from. Then they tell you that they would like to hire you and send you a check. They give you instructions to cash the check and send the majority to someone else for other services. The exchange is normally done through Western Union and once you send the money you will never see them again.
A few days later, you find out the check was a fake and you are now criminally responsible for cashing a forged check.
Never accept prepayment for any job. Seriously, why would anyone send a stranger large amounts of money and trust them to actually forward it elsewhere? They wouldn’t. No real production company would ever ask a stranger to cash a check and forward money anywhere. This is ALWAYS a scam! Always! This is a numbers game. They know some banks will catch it but they also know that not everyone uses a large bank with top of the line fraud prevention. I have heard of people getting scammed this way over and over. This scam is so widespread that even Western Union has signs up about it but people still ignore them and do it anyway. Never cash a check from people you have never met and absolutely NEVER forward any money through a money transfer service like Western Union.
Bait and Switch take 2:
You answer a casting call then get an audition. You go to the audition just to find many people there and the whole thing is just a sales pitch for photoshoots, portfolios, classes, etc.
These guys have gotten good. They know that people are hesitant to pay so they drag it out. After the first fake audition / sales meeting, they have you come back again and again. Each time you spend hours waiting. They keep you waiting for hours on purpose. That way they make it look like they are very busy and you are fortunate to get their attention. A few meetings later they tell you you are great, except for a lack of training or good photos. That is when they try to sell you. They will flatter you and pull every trick out of their book to get you to pay up. They know you have already invested lots of time so why not some money now? These people are not agents, they are sales people. They have no way of getting you work but try their best to convince you that they can.
Here is the rundown:
A ‘real’ casting director can not charge you money for anything or ask that you take classes or get photos. Casting directors are not paid by you. They are paid by the production companies to find talent, period! The only exception is extras casting and dance. Some of those charge a small audition fee. Small as in $25 bucks or so which covers the choreographer they hire for the audition process or clerical costs. Reality TV casting directors will never charge you any money. They are paid to find you.
Agents are not allowed to charge talent money unless they get them work in which case they keep a percent of what was earned. Agents are also not allowed to make anyone get photos done with their photographers. Agents need to be licensed in most states.
The gray area:
The gray area are the companies which are technically photo companies or modeling / acting schools such as JRP or Barbizon. They are in the gray because they are NOT licensed agents or casting directors. They use commissioned sales people and that has been their excuse forever. When confronted with fraud, they can simply say that the sales person was acting on their own. They are very good at the scam. The language in their contracts never promises work and most contracts actually talk about their other services. They know that most people will never catch the language used and that language protects them.
Online casting sites:
There are quite a few online casting sites. Some are real and some are phonies. This is another very gray area because they too will call you acting like a casting director who wants you for a job. But if you listen to the pitch closely you will see that what they are saying is they “will ‘submit you” for a fee. Here’s the kicker…. Submit is not the same as deliver. You have no idea if your submission went through and they don’t have to make sure it did. They just say they will ‘submit’. Since many of these companies are known spammers, most emails sent get returned but since they send it and not you, you will never see the bounced email message. Again, they are charging a fee to only attempt to submit and they purposefully hide the real contact info so you are none the wiser. The only way to be sure it went through is to email it yourself but the email address is hidden because they do not want you to do it yourself. Why would they? All you would do is complain that it got returned.
These guys have gotten smart. If you read their terms you will see that they say that they are not responsible for delivery. They can post fake castings all day long and submit profiles to fake emails and never care, because after all, they just promise to attempt to submit and nothing more. Their Terms of service normally say that castings are posted by third parties and they can not be held liable.
The best way to protect yourself is to email the production companies yourself and always remember, if it sounds to good to be true. It most likely is not real.
The acting scam / modeling scam has been around for decades. The scammers get more and more creative and the company names keep changing. Protect yourself by doing your due diligence and not falling for the hard sell.
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