Modeling Scouts

WPVI-TV 6/December 24, 2002

Julie Namura stands at 5'2", loves the camera, and trendy clothes. She was at the Quaker Bridge Mall, wearing this sweater, when a stranger approached and told her she had a great fashion sense.

Julie Namura/Langhorne, PA: "They were telling me how pretty I was, how far I could go. All the things that I could do." So pretty, they said, she belonged on the Options Talent website - for $595 up front, and $19.95 a month from then on. Her mother immediately set about getting Julie's money back.

Kim Namura/Langhorne, PA: "Something didn't seem right. I smelled a rat." Julie's mom also alerted the mall, where security officers ask the talent scouts to leave whenever they're found approaching customers.

John Ferreira/Quaker Bridge Mall: "It's my understanding that they have tried to come in here on several occasions. What's the Options Talent scouting system all about? We sent a 39-year-old, average-sized producer undercover. Someone a the business told her: "You do have a very nice look, so, we'll definitely let you stay." In a video shown to all the prospects that night, Options Talent, claimed that the country's leading modeling agencies and movie studios had access to its website.

One of the companies mentioned - Elite Models in New York City - says it is not working with Options Talent and it's asked Options Talent to stop mentioning its name in any way, shape or form.

We also checked with leading local modeling firm.

Virgina Doyle/Reinhard Agency: "As an agency, we certainly wouldn't look at a web site looking for models." Back at Options Talent, our producer was told only two percent of the people there that night would be chosen for a chance to be discovered: We contacted Options Talent at their Florida headquarters, and talked to spokesman Alan Anderson by phone.

We asked for the names of local models that have found work through the website or for the names of local agents that look for talent there. He promised to send a list; so far he hasn't.

We also asked how many people are chosen for the website. It turns out it's not two percent; it's everybody.

Alan Anderson/Options Talent: "We do not qualify, accept, or reject people. We simply offer people who want to get into the industry, a way to market themselves." So it was no surprise when our producer was called the next night and told she made the cut. She was told she should be ready to travel and that this was a chance to make, "fabulous money." But to move forward, she'd have to pay $595 immediately.

Flattery and pressure to make a decision are red flags for consumer advocates.

John Abel/Deputy Attorney General: "Anytime - whether it's any type of purchase of a good or service - you don't want to act on the spur of the moment." If you really want to get into the business as a model or actor; you can go directly to an agency like Reinhard - if you really have a marketable look, the agency will actually try to find you work and will not ask you for money.

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