ShinyStyle Investigates: Rogue modelling agencies and why they get away with it

By Andrea Petrou on October 2nd, 2009 2 comments

293.model.catwalk.090407.jpgI’m not exactly model material. I stand at an average 5’5 and my love for Chinese take away and chocolate means I’m not the required size six or zero.

But whilst strolling amongst the throng of shoppers on London’s Oxford Street I was quite literally ambushed by a “model scout” who insisted I had “the look for model and TV extra work.”

Being no stranger to these types of scouts, which in the past I have ignored, I thought I’d do a little bit of research for you, so I obliging had my picture taken and gave her my details. Apparently if you are “chosen” the company calls you and signs you up.

A mere 24 hours later they informed me I had been “accepted onto their books” and they wanted me to attend a casting for MTV.

So what was the catch? Read on to see what happened.


Well I didn’t need to pay them, but I would need a portfolio for which I would have to pay for copyright for each photo.

The agent said she wasn’t sure of the price but estimated it was around £70 per picture. When I asked where I would have to have these done, she said she “knew an independent studio”.

Here I would have a makeover and professional pictures taken and, because they “really wanted me” they would pay the £300 studio time. Very generous.

Now I’m more than aware of these scams so I did what any normal girl and journalist would do and Googled the company, which sounds very much like another professional modeling agency. Cue the barrage of complaints on forums accusing the company of being a “scam”.

One person on the Student Room Forum wrote: “I’m now about £100 out of pocket plus another £500 to come out of my accounts soon.”

In fact so many people have had problems with them that they have even started up a Facebook page where they are planning legal action against the company.

Alba, an independent modeling advice site, which currently has no funding from the Government, gives potential models information on legit agencies, also has this company in its named and shamed list where it says: “Loads of negative feedback on model networking sites such as Purestorm plus many complaints from models about them direct to Alba.”

But it seems that we may have got off lightly with our agency. A further look into the Named and Shamed list reveals some horrible facts including advice about the Dean Coles agency. The owner was imprisoned for rape and sexual assault of teenagers aiming to become models.

Katie Froud, founder of Alba, told me: “Since the rise of television programmes such as X-Factor and America’s next top model everyone wants to be famous and they are flattered when they are approached. They may not be as tall as Linda Evangelista but they look at successful Kate Moss who only 5’6 and think they may also be in the same category.”

She said many rogue agencies were allowed to get away with this as regulations surrounding the modelling industry aren’t strong enough. Alba has been campaigning to change this but the Model Agency Inspector, which is better known as the EAS Agency Inspectorate and is part of Government Department of BIS ( used to be the DTI) who regulates the industry, says it can’t do anything about this as the agencies “fly in under a banner outside legal restrictions.”

“We’ve had calls from people saying they have £1500 of pictures they can’t use but there’s nothing we can do,” she said.

However, Katie warned that even well known modeling agencies will, at some point charge girls for their test photographs.

“Its muddy water when it comes to photographs and agencies. At some point the cost of those photos will be passed on to the girl, possibly after she’s done her first shoot.”
Katie said many agencies, including the well respected Elliot Brown, now give girls a list of recommended photographers and ask them to pay for the shoot before picking out test shots.

I got back in touch with the agency that had scouted me and asked them for the details of the “independent” studio. The website itself looks professional (but that doesn’t really mean anything) and nothing suggests it’s affiliated with the modeling agency.

However, a look on company database Companies House shows both the agency and studio are registered to the same address and person. I asked the about this, and the claims I had found on the forums but the first three times they hung up on me refusing to comment. Forth time lucky all they would say was: “We’re a management not a modeling agency and because people work for themselves we can’t pay for the copyright.”
However they would not comment on the studio.

So what can you do if you’ve fallen victim to one of these agencies?

Unfortunately not much, especially if you’ve signed up to an online modeling agency on your own accord.

“Internet modeling laws are very loose,” said Katie.

“Rogue online agencies will say ‘well they came to us, they asked us to do it’ so they get away with it.”

The EAS Agency Inspectorate says that all agencies should charge a reasonable amount for pictures and to sign up, but according to Katie it won’t specify what “reasonable” is.
She said people who want more information about what do can print off details on the Alba website. The company has also created two DVDs to give parents and teens more information on the modeling world, which can be bought online for £6.

And the company is also working to tighten up communication with the Government, which currently has very small knowledge of the modeling industry. In fact knowledge is so poor that Government advice line Consumer Direct currently has no idea about the EAS Agency Inspectorate, which falls into the Government remit.

I contacted Consumer Direct but at the time of going to press it hadn’t got back to us. I’ll give you an update as soon as I hear back.

There is currently a currently a consultation period for agencies and regulation but until then the advice is steer clear from these so called Scouts and read up very carefully if you do decide to go ahead.

Join Shiny Style on Facebook for exclusive competitions and gossip
  • Garcelle

    I was approached by a scam scout from Zebra Connection at Oxford circus!!! Luckily i did some research online and saw horrid tales of people being forced to pay up to 800 pounds after being promised by Zebra that the photoshoot cost would be taken care of.

    *******AVOID THE ZEBRA CONNECTION SCAM********

  • jinjinj

    ZBY-Christmas is coming!coach outlet is also coming this world now!Coach bags,most famous brand in usa,also the world,why are coach spread so wide,that is because cheap with fashion,the reason why is so cheap because coach always have coach outlet online,we are the online store of coach bags,and they take their product all is from coach factory outlet,no tax no room rent is the advance of coach outlet online store,so come and shopping us now,beautiful bag are waitting for you.
     Are you ready to send what gift in this Christmas?Maybe we can give you some advice.louis vuitton outlet are amazing shopping site in this world,because through it,you can bought the louis vuitton bags in an incredible price,maybe a new way to get Louis Vuitton Handbag,that is louis vuitton online store,as I understand they take the bag from Louis vuitton factory,no tax,no house rent,no compete,these make the price lower then louis vuitton shop,so why not shop the louis vuitton online,amazing Louis Vuitton handbag are belong to you.
    If you want to buy coach for a christmas gift,you can go to our store online.coach outlet is cheapest mall to bought coach bags.as a famous brand in the world,have discount is a incredible thing.Find online store is a new way to get Coach Bags,coach outlet online obviously is a perfect way to get it,in this winter are you really ready to be a fashion women,usa coach outlet will help you,so join us now!coach outlet store online wating for you comeing!
    If you are worried for Christmas gift,hermes bags may be a good choice,as the world’s most expensive brand,if you have one, that must stand that you are a good station person in your country, Hermes is famous of it’s hermes handbags,as the hermes handbag’s high qulity and best design, maybe the price is the best in the world.Two series of hermes is popular,that is hermes kelly bags,and hermes birkin bags,this two series make Hermes more popular, so visit our site to get your love.
    A lot of people want to get a beautiful Coach Bag in christmas.Where can we buy coach bags? A lot of people choose to go to coach outlet store online.All products what sale in coach outlet online are top quality and low price.We promise you to recieve your buy about 5~7days. usa coach outlet directly sell for customers.Do you want to free to buy Coach Bags in your home?Please click coach outlet.
    belstaff jackets is the most popular winter brand in the world,if you don’t know,that means you out.belstaff coat is famous of its high-level material and fahisonable design,so that’s why so many people choose Belstaff to though the cold winter.Nowaday surffing the internet is the lifestyle of most people,but have you bought things on the internet,I introduce you to try to buy things in the internet,because you can buy belstaff sale on the internet,that way you can get big discount than in reality world,in the brand belstaff trialmaster series is the hottest,this series suit for all kinds of people,whatever you like,whatever you are,you suit it.
    Why buy coach bags from us? Because we have all kinds of Coach products,and these products are high quality and low price.coach factory  provide the most perfect service, your order will arrive about 5~7days.Free shipping any order of $99+.Go shopping in people’s eyes is women’s patent as if  .Now a new choice for women is going to coach factory online.If you want to buy Coach Poppy Bag or Coach Wallet, but don’t want to go out, coach factory outlet must be your best choice.Are you still hesitate? To click on your mouse to choose your like.
    What should you send gift in christmas? hermes handbags is waiting for you.Maybe Hermes Handbags is very expensive,but you will be interisted in our replica hermes handbags,we have hermes birkin bags,Hermes Kelly Bags and so on,all of them is quality assured and beautiful,so buy hermes bags on our site,amazing surprise is waiting for you.
    On the eve of Christmas comes,  coach factory outlet also provide to the most preferential price at this time.  coach outlet olinehave many beautiful products, there must be  your like.Such Coach bags,Coach sunglass,Coach wallet and so on.Free shipping for any order of $99+.our store will give you a nice present.coach outlet must be Shopping paradise what you want to go.
    What should we buy   winter clothes?I think a moncler jackets is necessaery,online moncler is a good way to get a perfect Moncler.Moncleris famous of it amazing qulity and it’s consummate manual work,when you ware it,you will feel warm,whatere how cold the winter is,Moncler can take care of your body.Our online store afford latest moncler coat,so in the cold winter you can also fashion and attractive,so visit our moncler online shop,it will take you a warm winter.




©2010 Shiny Digital Privacy Policy
Join Shiny Style on Facebook for exclusive competitions and gossip