I am so mad that I had to do this while it was fresh in my mind! A little over an hour ago, my slighty naive younger sister called home, so excited about this "modeling opportunity" with Model Search America. ALL they needed was $1000 to reserve her spot to go to Las Vegas to their convention where "hundreds of top agencies" would be waiting to pick her out of the group. She still had to pay for food and airfare--they made it sound like a GREAT deal--I mean duh--it includes the hotel stay!
The sales girl had my sister call back home on three-way call to ask my mom for the money. The girl proceeded to tell my mom all of the big names that would be there..."Elite, Wilhemina, etc, etc--That Donald Trump recruits from there and that Janice Dickinson filmed at one of the conventions...." and on and on. She talked about how my sister was picked from a large group of several others from the interview they had with her---OVER THE PHONE!!! Yes, the girl had not seen my sister, yet she was picked for a special modeling convention, how does that work?!
Finally, my mother gave me the phone, and with laptop in hand, I snapped back at the sales girl to no end. I first asked if they were a member of the Better Business Bureau, to which she replied that yes, they were. So I went to bbb.com, looked up Model Search America. There was a New York address and a Florida address. I looked at the NY one--NOT a member of the BBB. So I told the sales girl that online it states that they are in fact not a member, and had 11 complaints over the past few years, ALL with NO response made by the company. She said "we're not the NY one, we're the Florida one, and we're a member of the BBB." So I click on the Florida address--also NOT a member of the BBB.
I then told her of this and I heard the irritation forming in her voice as she said "well ma'am, when we turn girls down, we're telling them that they aren't pretty enough, or skinny enough, and those people file a lot of claims against us, plus we have tons of clients." I told her that what's funny, is that they very same spiel she's giving us is almost word for word what it in one of the complaints I'm ready. I also told her that there are other very large company that do manage to be on the BBB list, so why couldn't they?
I could sense the irritation as I'm guessing she wasn't used to the onslaught of questions and contradictions and FACTS. I even pointed out an article I found online on the Federal Trade Commission's website, "If You've Got the Look, Look Out!" which was about modeling scams just like the one she was trying to sell my baby sister. My sister began crying, saying how "big of an opportunity this was, how she would pay it back, just please let her go!..." This sales girl now had me pissed off--she had filled my sister's head with big dreams and then tried to make us look like we're the bad guys for trying to watch out for her. The sales girl had suceeded in upsetting everyone for several reasons. Mom then asked, "how much do you get paid in commission when you get my daughter to sign up?" and the girl said that she was paid hourly. (What?! She wasn't just doing this for my sister's benefit? Surely not!) HAH! What an absolute joke, I couldn't believe the girl could say all the things she said without feeling like a worthless piece of crap.
We got my sister to tell the girl that she would call her back tomorrow, and finally just had my sister on the phone. We calmed her down, told her to look at the bbb site and the ftc site. I told her just to search "modeling scams" on the net--I was inundated with sites with very similar stories. My sister hung up with us and promised to check out the sites, saying that she appreciated us looking out for her. She was lucky enough to have people who loved her and cared for her that watched out for her, using the power of the internet--never hesitate to research! I hope that researching and finding all the info i found, prevents Model Search America and all their sister companies from harassing another unsuspecting youth person
--watch out for yourself! They prey on your biggest dreams.
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