When first breaking into the business, every opportunity for any aspiring actor, model or singer is a gamble. The road to being in the spotlight is filled with gigs that aren’t exactly what they seem. Anyone in the entertainment biz needs to educate themselves on all the scams they may encounter before they hit it big.

Hollywood Scam Artists

Casting calls are equivalent to coveted job interviews. A posting on the Internet, a flyer stapled on a telephone pole or an ad in the local newspaper announces a new reality TV show is searching for undiscovered talent. The producers ask for a headshot, resume and a fee. Be warned: some casting calls asking for a payment may be phony auditions for parts that don’t even exist. These unscrupulous casting calls come under different guises—some may use scripted shows, others use game shows or movies. Or, they say a new show needs to hire an initial cast or there’s a rush for immediate auditions, according to backstage.com. Some scammers hold fake auditions for shows that are already on air or movies that are already in production. Others may inflate casting calls by taking details from a show or, they may simply recycle old notices and change the dates. Also, any fee charged for a chance to meet and read for casting agents and directors in a classroom setting may be a violation of SAG-AFTRA Rule 11.

Play a Proactive Role

Hollywood AuditionsBefore unlocking any access to potential scammers, those seeking stardom must practice their own due diligence. Researching and being in-the-know of underhanded practices can stop any future A-lister from being the victim of a scam. Here are a few more things to watch out for:

  • The business, manager or casting agency asks for an upfront fee. Casting agents are the ones paid to look for talent—not the other way around. Managers should only be paid commission based on the work they secure. Be warned of producers promising roles in exchange for funding the project. You must learn to protect yourself from situations like this. LifeLock’s identity guard can be a preventive measure if one unknowingly shares sensitive financial information to a dishonest party. The company’s multi-faceted, online approach to identity theft and fraud protection can give anyone looking for their big break a sense of security knowing their hard-earned resources are being received by the appropriate audience.
  • Companies advertising for inclusion in a national database of pictures to be used in future projects that film in different parts of the country, generally where SAG has no background jurisdiction and where filming rarely takes place. These companies charge a fee to be listed, stating those in the database will be notified if a film is coming to the area. Some companies may request money be sent to ‘hold’ a place in the film.
  • Casting call scammers claiming to be affiliated with a network, organization or Better Business Bureau. Double check the BBB site to verify any rating or accreditation. Research the casting website or agency online—Google it, ask others in the industry, go on Yelp. If it’s a scam, chances are there are warnings about it.
  • Companies that don’t have professional websites. Check the production company’s website. Shows in development may not have a dedicated website, but the production company working on it should. Verify show details and staff names.
  • Other red flags? Agencies requesting professional photos being taken only with a specific photographer, requests for payment via cash or money order and calls being accepted until late in the night, according to the FTC.

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