The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the whole world at home. As a result, platforms such as YouTube, TikTok, or Instagram have been used extensively, while users have been showcasing their families or new looks. As a mom, you have probably created a new routine and forgot for the moment of dreamy mother-daughter trips and focused on domestic activities while trying to maintain a balance between health and happiness.
Luckily, many entertaining series, apps, campaigns, and even games have captured our attention online. Campaigns like the Don’t Rush Challenge have exploded overnight, featuring moms, daughters, teens, or grandmas.
However, scammers take advantage of the situation these days and prey on the naivety of people. So mothers our there, beware of the latest scam. Let us expose it. It doesn’t matter whether you or your child have popular social media accounts – if you do, you are even more exposed to the fraud. Here is how it works:
A well-spoken follower on Instagram, Tik Tok, or Facebook starts chatting friendly with you. After a bunch of likes, comments, and a few other discrete compliments posted to build trust, he reaches out and mentions that you (or your child, also in the pictures) have all the talent and looks necessary to be used as a model. He says he represents a talent agency that places models for major brands that are doing online campaigns during the pandemic.
“Hope you and your family are safe where you are. I am not sure if you are interested in making some extra income while you are staying at home, but your type of posts are exactly what some brands like Lindt, Crate & Barrel, or Home Depot are looking for: something genuine that conveys happiness at home during the crisis. If you are interested in making some product placement, let me know.”
He even sends you a fake website of his agency, which looks legitimate.
This opportunity looks like a dream come true: money coming in for something that you are doing already. Everything looks so professional. His profile features a family with kids and a happy wife kissing him on a cheek.
As you sign up, you are asked to pay a registration fee. Well, you don’t become a star without some costs, so you happily pay up $89. But there is more.
Next, you are invited for a must-have acting class or a “How to rock a movie scene” workshop. This class also hosted online on platforms like Zoom by questionable characters claiming to be famous for have been working with stars like Brad Pitt and Zack Galifianakis. “It will be important for you to take this class because you may be more versatile and get more contracts in the future. Think after the pandemic is over”, says your “agent.
You may become an actor – or so that’s what most victims think. That’s then they register for a $199 acting course online, hoping that they – or their children – will be discovered and get some work – on unpaid gigs, which are necessary to “build up the portfolio.”
The scammers play with your hopes, telling you how you or your child have such unique potential. Some companies even organize fake auditions to qualify for their representation, so once you are “selected,” you feel even more confident that you could become a star and pay your registration fee right away.
How to Avoid the Talent Scam
The first red flag is that you are being asked for money before getting paid (remember, they reached out to you with an offer first). A job is supposed to pay you, not you paying the job. Ask a lot more questions and research the name of the company first before you register. See what complaints there are against them and ask around and see if you can find anyone else “represented” by them.
For more than 1,200 scams, you can check out Scam Detector, a platform that exposed the word’s fraudulent activities in all industries. You can type in a keyword in the Search box (such as “Coronavirus” or “government”), and the website aggregates and presents you all the scams related to that term.