How to spot a fake

Almost daily I hear reports of questionable photographers, or messages offering payment for some dodgy model shoot. Thankfully many model radars are becoming sensitive, so these concerns are being sent to industry professionals for further scrutiny.

More common than ever before, we find overseas scams looking to entice victims... generally for money, while many locals are looking to exploit naive females too. Isn't techcnology great!

We want to arm you with the power and activate your radar to go off when confronted by these potential fakes.

How to?? Firstly you need to be aware of the types of scams out there. The majority of these are happening from Facebook where models have a visible online profile, with the ability to direct message.

* Personal message from a stranger to do a Skype chat

* Personal message regarding a great job offer paying big

* Personal message from a photographer to do a shoot

* Personal message from a 'professional' who scouted you

Do you see the pattern here? A random person contacts you via a "personal message".  Very few of these would ever be legitimate, so read on to be empowered.

Ask yourself 'why me' every time a stranger contacts you? Of course you are pretty like the thousands of other models in Australia, but why you who they have never met? Surely if they are professionals, they would have personally met lots of other models before and have connections to model networks.

The professional casting process never singles out one random model to get the job. It’s competitive out there with many great models always interested, so this process is always about finding the most suitable from a selection.

Other scams can come from job advertisements or fake castings. We have seen these in classified pages and sites like Model Mayhem, Starnow, and model job groups on Facebook.

Some try boost their credibility by claiming to have worked with big names. Contact to check those references out!

So ask another question.... is this a professional business site, or a free for all group full of amateurs? If it's a public and unscrutinised group, then you need to be extra vigilant.

The AUSSIE MODELS (paid only) group is clearly labelled and part of the AUSSIE ELITE professional network. We only allow fair paid jobs and offer credible advice and support. Unlike any other group, we look at every member profile joining, block about 20 suspect ones per day, and examine every job posted.

What about agencies? Many small dodgy model agencies and illegitimate 'professionals' are out there too. Some are simply looking to extract money from joining fees or a photo shoot they are forcing you into, while others claiming to be professional photographers are simply not. How to check their profiles in a few steps...

No 1.  Check their Facebook profile - does it look credible? Do they even show their headshot several times in a personal page or hide their identity?

No 2.  How long has the profile been active - since what year?

No 3.  How many friends/followers do they have... any mutual?

No 4.  Do they get likes or comments on their posts? People can buy fake "likes" but it gives no interaction.

No 5.  Do they have a credible business page attached to their personal profile?

No 6.  Do they have a website and office details listed?

**Note that some fakes have been known to impersonate or use names and details from professional agencies overseas.

Don't take their word for it... you need to contact the referenced business direct, and on a number or email addresses listed on a professional website.







Here is another dodgy agency scam still operating which makes you pay $190 for a supposed job or casting. Wrong and fake!

IF IT SOUNDS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE IT USUALLY IS... more scams we have seen.

Scenario 1.  Someone offering you an easy $1000 for a few hours in front of the camera in a hotel room.

Scenario 2.  They want to do a Skype session to cast you for a big role.

Scenario 3.  Company wants to fly you overseas for a big TV commercial - $4k for 2 days work.

Scenario 4.  Top pro photographer wants to do a TFP shoot with you to submit for an International magazine.


1.  At rates like that they have the pick of many top agency models, so why you… and in a hotel room? What shots can you do there other than some bedroom pics. Your alarm bells should be ringing, so don’t be pressured.

2.  Professionals do not cast over Skype. This is only used for legitimate meetings or when already known. This is a tactic of fakes to get you naked, while some even video the session and blackmail later.

3.  It will cost them much in airfares, accommodation, etc, so why don’t they use a local model rather than higher costs of one they have never met? Some will even ask you to pay an “insurance” payment before leaving. A total scam trip you will never get to, but they will enjoy your money.

4.  Wouldn’t a top pro know models everywhere? Yes we know, they say you are perfect for it, or the next big thing. Seriously, there must be something in it for them. Usually this turns out to be a sexual adventure for some fraudulent creep. We have exposed several!

If No4 is indeed legit, then have them sign a model release form to protect yourself in case any shots get used commercially or published. At that point you become entitled to a share in the money earnt.

In this attractive and sexually charge industry, it would have to be difficult for a red blooded male to not be tempted to cross the line, and we’ve heard of females sometimes being involved too. Even some known long term 'professionals' have fallen apart to exploit females. 80% of the time the pattern is noticed with photographers shooting more and more, sensual, nude or erotic type images. Clearly the temptation gets too strong for some. Shooting around nudes is clearly one of the most risky areas for models.

Specify intentions and look for unusual or inappropriate communication, as this should be another warning sign. And lets break another myth...


Here's another example. Tough to pick for some, but  professionals can help you from becoming a victim.

It’s not all bad and we don’t want you to be scared off. As you gain experience, your warning radar improves, so it's more important than ever to talk to professionals and be supported by an agency or network to protect you.

If you check them out, it seems legit, and are still prepared to go ahead… always bring someone with you. Take care!

- by Dean Marzolla (Industry leading professional)