Model Agency Scams

Learn how to identify fake model scouts and their sales tactics.

Were you approached by a model scout on the street? Not all who scout you on the street are scammers. Many supermodels were discovered while doing everyday activities.

  • Kate Moss was scouted at the JFK airport coming back from a family holiday.
  • Gisele Bundchen was scouted while she was eating a Big Mac at McDonald’s.
  • Jourdan Dunn was scouted when she was out shopping with a friend.

So how do you determine if a model scout is legitimate or a scam? Read on to learn if you want to learn how to identify fake scouts and their sales tactics.

Being scouted by a modelling agency can mean the start of an exciting new chapter in your life. It is the dream of many boys and girls to be a model. However, wherever there is a way of making money, unscrupulous people will be there to make a quick buck. They exploit model hopefuls by making use of their naivety and ambition.

Street Scouting

Fake scouts usually operate in public places such as shopping centres and high streets. In Singapore, they prey on unsuspecting people along Orchard Road, Bugis, and Bishan. Be extra vigilant when you are approached at these places.

Once you are stopped, the fake scouts will try to gain your trust and attention with a mixture of flattery, lies, and false promises. It is also common for them to name-drop local actors and actresses that they supposedly used to represent. Some might even have an office address in a fancy location to build legitimacy.

If you are serious about becoming a model, join our agency.

Do a quick Google search using your mobile phone to verify their claims. Were there others scammed by this agency? The easiest way to find this information is searching for “[agency name] + scam” in Google.

If there are positive reviews, are they legitimate? Shady agencies are known to give themselves good reviews in order to suppress negative reviews. There is no smoke without fire. If there are claims that the agency is a scam, there might be some truth in it.

If you suspect you are about to get scammed, walk away without giving out your personal particulars. Most legitimate model agencies will leave you a business card and let you contact them if you are interested. Research the agency online when you are home. If they claim to be from a high-profile agency, call or drop the agency a message to check if the scout is indeed affiliated with them.

There were incidents where other agencies were using our name to scam people. They gave out business cards or information of their own agency but claim to be our sister agency. This is not true. There is only one Basic Models Management.

Orchard Road, Singapore
Orchard Road, Singapore

Scouting Online

Being scouted online is pretty common nowadays. We do that occasionally as well. Scouting is mostly done via our Instagram account (@basicmodels) and our Head Booker’s personal account (@mysbon). But, as other apps get popular, we will venture out to scout on those apps too. Do note that all email communications are done through our agency email address ending with

Scammers have been creating fake accounts impersonating as bookers from established agencies. They will ask you to do an online money transfer to secure an interview. Some victims were even pressured into sending naked pictures. This is so the “bookers” can see the victim’s body proportions.

Never send naked pictures of yourself to anyone. Not even to reputable agencies. Some legitimate agencies might request for pictures of you in lingerie or bikini. This is to check if you have any scars or tattoos. It is fine to reject them if you are uncomfortable with it.

There were also cases of scammers impersonating models from agencies offering ad hoc jobs. Always check if the account looks shady and is created recently.

Agency Interview

If you are going to a modelling agency interview, bring a friend or your parents along. If you are required to spend money on photographs or registration fees before joining the agency, run. Run as fast as your long legs can carry you. This is a major red flag. No legitimate agency will ask you for payment to join them.

Scammers will charge a large amount of money for a few simple photographs. Some will even try and sell you photography packages in the thousand dollar range. They will tell you that the more pictures you have, the better the clients can see your range. It would then be easier to get jobs. If anyone in the agency is proposing this, they are misleading you.

They will also try and pressure you with a timeline. They might tell you about an urgent job they have now that is suitable for you. All you have to do is to pay for a photography package so they can send the pictures to the client. They might even give you a limited time offer for the photography packages.

Unable to deal with the high-pressure sales pitch, some people will pay up to leave the uncomfortable situation. If you are like this, go to the interview without bringing any cash or credit card. Legitimate agencies wouldn’t need you to pay anything anyway.

Red Flags to Watch Out For

In summary, fake scouts or agencies are usually using these tricks. Watch out for them and you’ll be fine.

  • You have to pay a fee to join them. – Legitimate model agencies do not require you to pay a fee.
  • Paying to get your photos taken by their photographer.
  • Time pressure.
  • Other people asking online if they’ve been scammed by the same agency.
  • They guarantee you’ll get work. – No modelling job is ever guaranteed.
  • Asking for naked pictures.

Don’t let flattery get into your head. It is important to do a self-reflection. Be honest with yourself, are you good enough to be a model? Is the scouter interested in making you a model or your money?

Ask questions and understand how the business works. Does the agency make money from getting you modelling jobs or getting you to buy their photography package? Was there a constant stream of new people like you who were scouted? Do they look like models? All these are tell-tale signs that will help you recognise a fake agency easily.

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Alex Lee

Co-founder and Marketing Director at Basic Models Management. When Alex needs to be more productive, he listens to Daft Punk and imagines he is a robot working in an assembly line.