Friday, 22 October 2010

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Dear Consumer’s Voice

My younger sisters went to an audition at Game City organised by Figures Models Talent International based in South Africa – in conjunction with IMTA from the US. It was held in the open area near Ola Milky lane – targeting people between the ages of 10 – 27 years old.

One of my sisters received a SMS (call back) because she had passed the first set of auditions. She was been requested to go back the next day and bring P250 – which includes a branded T-shirt, certificate and Invitation package to IMTA New York convention where they meet with numerous agents and have a chance at winning the contest. The P250 set the alarm bells because it really does not come with any guarantees, and seems too early in the game - neither is it a small amount of cash to pay.

We have researched both organisations online, while they appear legit and the P250 seems to only be a registration fee, a few reviews on Easy Background Check, come out revealing that the chances of anyone winning are close to nothing – and this is after parents and candidates have spent thousands of dollars to get to New York. It is an exciting idea for someone to be within the same league as Katie Holmes and other IMTA winners but parents must approach this with serious caution. Are they pouring their cash into a bottom less pit?

Perhaps you can do your own investigations and see if this is a worthy concern.

I think you are VERY wise to be cautious.

I should point out that, for very obvious reasons, I have no experience in either the fashion or modelling industry. However you don’t have to be an expert to smell a bad smell. I am ALWAYS suspicious of organisations who demand money up front for no obvious return. So you get a t-shirt, a piece of paper with your name on it and this “invitation package”? You realise of course that this invitation will be no more than that, don’t you? There won’t be any free flights, accommodation or living expenses. It will just allow you progress to the next stage of their scheme. The cost to fly your sister and someone to chaperone her to New York will be around P30,000 and that’s just for the flights. Are you really prepared to waste such an amount on a remote chance of her being seen by a talent spotter?

It didn’t take too much internet research to discover that there is huge scepticism about
IMTA. A Google search for “IMTA scam” came back with 3,650 responses. Of course this isn’t scientific but it should prompt you to dig a little deeper. The essence of the IMTA approach is requiring potential “models” to pay thousands of US dollars to attend conventions to get a chance to be selected by visiting scouts from modelling agencies. However there are plenty of competitions around that offer exactly the same opportunity to be spotted but which do NOT require them to cough up a fortune to be there.

Here’s a suggestion. Turn back to page 3 of this newspaper but please don’t get distracted and forget to come back. Do you really think that the pretty girl on page 3 paid The Voice to appear there? Of course not.

To me this sounds just like one of the many recruitment scams we’ve reported on over the last few years. A “registration fee”, a promise of employment and riches and a requirement to part with large quantities of cash for travel and accommodation, it’s all the same thing.

Please avoid this, it’s way too suspicious. Instead encourage your sister, if you think she has the necessary qualities, to approach a real modelling agency. A legitimate company won’t demand your money up front. If they do, just walk out.

Yet another scam

A reader sent over the following email he had received. Can you identify all the clues that it’s a scam? I can spot 17 clues, including grammatical ones. See if you can beat my score!

Meanwhile if you feel like wasting a few thebe why don’t you SMS this scammer and tell him what you think of him? The time has come to take the battle BACK to scammers.

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