Entertainment scams come in all different shapes and sizes and can impact individuals beginning in any facet of the entertainment industry whether it is sports, acting, music, modeling, etc. Con artist can easily prey off of individuals in the entertainment industry especially those who are just beginning or are easily persuaded into the industry. Con artist generally approach their victims during amateur sporting events, malls, public places, hotels, home recording studios, and talent competitions. Even if an event appears to be a legitimate company it doesn’t mean that it is not a scam or large racketeering business with lots of additional fraudulent associates. It is important to quickly identify the distinguishing features of an entertainment scam before engaging in business or contracts with an entertainment company or entertainment scout. The following is a list of a few ways one may identify that they are being targeted by an entertainment scam.
Ways to Identify an Entertainment Scam:
1) Wanting Your Personal Information Up Front
Generally, scam artist will ask for all of your information up front to contact you for industry tryouts or casting calls. Some may even claim that they just ran out of business cards and that they will need your contact information for contact, but this is simply a way for them to get their foot in your door so that they may convince you to fall for their scam. Legitimate industries will have company cards and will provide you with the information to contact them for tryouts and casting calls at your convenience. Even if they do provide you a company card do your research and ensure that the company is a legitimate and reputable source.
2) They Want You to Sign A Contract Immediately
Con artist wants you to sign a contract immediately and before you have negotiated any financial aspects or tried out for any entertainment activities. The purpose of this is to get more of your personal contact information and to lock you into a contract agreement before you have an opportunity to cover the information in detail of what you may be signing. They may encourage you to sign something without reading the document or may insist that if you do not sign that day in office that the offer may expire or the position may be filled.
3) The Position That They Originally Proposed Is Not Available
Illegitimate scouts will always propose larger gigs, sports teams, acting jobs, modeling events, etc. to attempt to lure in individuals for the scam. A tell-tale sign that you are being enticed by a criminal is that once they make contact with you again then the original spot proposed has been cast or the position has been filled. They will then tell you that they may have some smaller entertainment jobs that may lead to larger promotions or opportunities. Some examples of this are commonly found in modeling, music, and acting where the con artist may pressure an individual to work in the pornography industry to possibly get recognized by other future film companies, recording studios, or modeling agencies. Some sporting scams may involve uniforms, cards, sports equipment, training programs, coaching, etc. In other instances sports cons include selling shares of a team that is, not owned by the scout, to promote their ability to join the team.
4) They Require You to Pay For Anything
In true talent situations you will not be required to pay anything to be represented by an agent, company, or to join in membership to an organization. If the scout or other professionals within the agency require that you give them financial information or money then it is not a legitimate organization. Even if the scout states that you need to pay for coaching, photographs, demos, etc. then you are possibly looking at a scam situation especially if the situation wasn’t represented as an opportunity to purchase merchandise, products, or coaching. In most legitimate entertainment positions all necessary products will be provided to you free of cost and any necessary coaching or service will be free of cost. If the scout is enticing you to pay for a fee for discovering your talent then the situation is most definitely a scam. In legitimate situations a recruiter or scout will get a commission from the employing company for discovering your talent so a fee will not be necessary. Also be weary of anyone who claims to be both a recruiter and a talent agent; a true entertainment agent would have lower level employees recruiting for them and would not do most of the leg work themselves.
5) Reputable Agencies Don’t Select Just Anyone
If you are aware that your skills, talent, or appearance is around average then you should have expectations that you are not going to be selected at random for the star position on a team or that you will be selected for a leading actor/ actress in a major film. Con artist will try to flatter you to make you believe their con and make you feel that you are able to gain a position to fame in the entertainment industry. If it appears too good to be true then it generally is. True reputable agencies will select individuals few and far between and will be highly selective when selecting individuals for an entertainment position. Furthermore true agencies may interview prospective individuals for months before making a decision on whether or not to employ them. If you go to a casting or tryout and there is not any competition for the position then you may be looking at a scam.
If you believe that you may have been approached or contacted by a scam agency or individual you should verify the information they have provided you. If you have already made payments to the con artist it is important to also notify your bank to stop any apparent fraudulent activities and investigate/ reverse any fraudulent charges that may have taken place against your accounts. If you have signed a contract with a possible con artist or agency it is necessary to take legal measures to protect yourself and your finances. In the instance of entertainment fraud it is imperative that you contact an attorney with sports and entertainment law experience; as well as, notifying the police of fraudulent activity.