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How to Spot a Scam

by Shauna Smith Duty


 
Whether you’re interested in photo contests, pageants, or modeling agencies, online scams abound, so it’s hard to know who’s legit and who’s a con. Many parents have been scammed by fraudulent Web sites that offer to print your baby’s photo in a book, post your child’s photo on their agency’s site, or offer a fair pageant with great prizes—for a price. Not all pageants and contests that charge a fee are bad, though. How can a parent spot the scams?

Beware! If you are asked to pay an agency to post your child’s photos on their Web site, you could be witnessing a scam. Reputable agencies do not charge fees to post photos on their Web sites. This service is provided as a benefit to the clients they choose to represent. If you want your child’s photo on the Internet, consider creating a Web site, or participate in photo contests, like those at www.ratemybabypics.com.

Beware! If you are asked to pay for agent representation, you could be witnessing a scam. Reputable agents take a percentage of wages as compensation for services. Never pay for an agent upfront. Managers are also unnecessary for most new child actors/models. A graphic artist can create comp cards, then parents can submit the cards to agencies. If a child has so many auditions and bookings that marketing becomes a hassle, parents should consider a manager.

Beware! If you are asked to purchase a book that will feature your child’s photo, you could be witnessing a scam. Companies such as signatorpublishing.com, picture.com, circleofphotographers.com, pictireofamerica.com, and pch.com ask parents to purchase a bound collection of baby photos in which their child’s photo will be featured. This is similar to what writers call vanity publishing. You pay to see your work, or your child in this case, in print. There is no career benefit to this. These books are not sold in traditional bookstores, though some companies sell their books through online retailers. According to complaints at http://www.ratemybabypics.com/forum_thread/151/1 and http://www.ratemybabypics.com/forum_thread/1499.html, many parents never receive the book they purchase.

Beware! If you are asked to pay pageant fees that seem out of line with the offered prizes, you could be witnessing a scam. Some pageant fees are out of line with the prizes offered, and unfortunately, many online pageants are frauds. Use posting boards, like those at www.ratemybabypics.com, www.voy.com, and Yahoo! Groups to ask other parents if a pageant is reputable. If you have problems with a pageant, be sure to post your experience on the boards for other parents to access.

Beware! If you place phone calls or emails to an agency or pageant director and do not receive a sufficient response, you may be witnessing a scam. Any time you pay for a service or product, you should be able to ask questions. If emails or phone messages to a company go unreturned, or if you receive answers that seem disconcerting, you should probably avoid doing business with the company.

Beware! If your PayPal account shows a vendor address that has been used in the past, you may be witnessing a scam. Before sending pageant entry fees via PayPal, check your vendor history to see if you previously sent a payment to the same vendor. Sometimes unscrupulous pageant directors open multiple Web sites for pageants so they can scam the same clients again. Network with other parents on message boards, and read past posts, to investigate a pageant prior to sending entry fees.

Baby modeling, pageants, and photo contests are not regulated, and even in the case of obvious scams, law enforcement cannot effectively control or even subdue fraudulent behavior online. Don’t miss out on the rewards of pageantry as a hobby or baby modeling as a career for your child because of scams. Be aware of the red flags, network with other parents online, ask questions of pageant directors, and most of all, enjoy your beautiful baby.



Comments

4 Comments

ladyiris7072
Thu, Mar 15, 2007 12:17am

YES ITS TRUE I PUT MY DAUGHTER"S PICTURE IN PICTURE .COM AND THEY SAY MY PICTURE IS SO EYE CATCHING AND THEY WANT ME TO PAY FOR ATROPHY I BELIEVE AND A BOOK AND ALSO THEY SAY MY PICTURE WILL BE SEEN BY MOST PHOTOGRAPHER IN A EVENT IN LAS VEGAS AND THEY SAY I CANNOT ATTEND BUT IF I WANT TO ATTENT AND SHOW THE PICTURE TO WIN I HAVE TO PAY FOR THE TRIP IS $500 AND I WANT FOR THEM TO DO IT FOR ME IS 150 DOLLARS THEY CRAZY!!!
 

Wed, Jun 07, 2006 2:18pm

Look up info on companies and agencies @ rippoffreport online. Stay away from kids.com, big scammers will charge you alot of money for pics
 

Sun, May 21, 2006 11:05am

it means that i have to remove my picture from other web sites except here,,
 

MariahsMommy
Mon, Apr 03, 2006 11:17am

good info...
 


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