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Avoiding Scams: The Basics

This video and article are intended to inform you of the very basics of how to avoid scams.


Avoiding Scams: The basics
from Model Mayhem on Vimeo.

Model Mayhem will never send you an email asking for your login information. If you receive an email that seems to be from Model Mayhem asking you to click a link and enter your password information, do NOT click the link and mark the message as SPAM.

Phishing: First Step to Scams

Scammers get into Model Mayhem accounts by stealing your login information. This is commonly referred to as phishing or hacking.

How does phishing work?

  1. You will likely get an email that seems to be from Model Mayhem. The email may look like it is from Model Mayhem (@modelmayhem.com) but when you check the actual email is NOT from @modelmayhem.com.*
  2. You may also get a PM from another member who has already been phished.
  3. The email or PM asks you to send back your login information or click a link that seems to go to Model Mayhem, where you need login to continue.
  4. The website looks exactly like Model Mayhem.
  5. You send your password back in an email OR you click the link and enter your login information on a site that looks like Model Mayhem.
  6. The next thing you know, your profile has been taken over by someone else!

* Note: Some official emails from Model Mayhem may come from an email that is @ibemail or something similar. This is because Model Mayhem is owned by Internet Brands (ib). If you have any questions about the email just login and ask a moderator! Also, some companies are Certified Partners of Model Mayhem. As such, they are authorized to ask for Model Mayhem login information in order to provide services for members. It is safe to supply Model Mayhem login information to these companies. Here is the complete list of Certified Partners.

How do you avoid getting phished?

  1. Never, ever, ever share your password with anyone. Ever! No one but YOU needs it.
  2. Don’t use the same password on your Model Mayhem account as you do on other accounts.
  3. Change your password at least every two months.
  4. Don’t click any unfamiliar links in any email.
  5. Don’t download any files from an unknown sender.
  6. Only log in to Model Mayhem from www.modelmayhem.com – and nowhere else!

This message asks you to click a link and login to MM, but notice that the link DOES NOT go to MM. DO NOT click the link and DO NOT enter your login info. Clicking the link and entering your information is how your Model Mayhem account will be hijacked!

This is what you would see if you do click on the link. This is a “spoof” of MM – it looks just like MM to trick you into logging in. LOOK at the address in the address bar, it is clearly NOT modelmayhem.com.

If you get a message on MM like this one, please find the “flag message” link under the message and right above the “send reply” box.

How do I know I’ve been phished?

  1. You may receive PMs with replies from other members you never messaged.
  2. Your outbox will have messages you never sent in it.

Help! I’ve been phished! What do I do?

  1. Don’t panic! The mods are here to help kick the scammer out of your profile and get you back in.
  2. If the mods haven’t sent you a message already, click the Help button at the top of the site and click Contact a Moderator.
  3. Let the mods know that you think your account has been compromised, and then follow their instructions carefully.

If you follow the tips here, your account information should be safe and you shouldn’t get phished or hacked again.

Scams: The Reason for Phishing

Once someone takes control over someone’s account, the scammer gets to work right away. They take over your inbox and start sending out a flood of messages intended to essentially lie, cheat, and steal. This behavior has been around for a long time – almost since the invention of the internet!

The best weapon against these scams is knowledge. Knowing what a scam might look like or ask for helps you spot a scam and protect yourself, your account, and your wallet!

Common Scams and How They Work

Pre-Payment “Nigerian” scams

You may see these in your email or have heard stories about them. A wealthy Nigerian prince is offering to send you a check to deposit in your bank account if you’d only send him a small amount back! Or the UK lottery just drew and you are the winner of an astounding sum of money – you just need to forward your banking details to the lottery commission and the funds will be transferred immediately. These scams are the SAME… except the offer is from a magazine or photographer wanting to pre-pay to work with you.

Spot it v1:

  1. The scammer offers to send you a check – before meeting you or even signing a contract!
  2. You are informed that you get to keep a large portion of the check. Payday!!!
  3. However, you are also told that once you cash the check you have to send someone else (a makeup artist, a hair stylist, a wardrobe stylist, a studio) a “small portion” as their fee.
  4. You may also be asked to send a portion of the check back because of an overpayment or some other reason.

Spot it v2:

  1. The scammer wants to pay you in advance for work you haven’t even done yet. Nice, right?
  2. All you have to do is give them your mailing information so they can send you a check.
  3. You may also be asked for your banking info so they can send you a direct deposit.
  4. You will likely be asked to send a portion of the check back.

Understand it:

  1. That check is faker than a spray tan!
  2. Your bank will bounce the fake check and you will be liable for the money.
  3. Giving out your banking information can result in money being stolen directly from your account!

Bottom line: No legitimate industry professional is going to hire someone unknown to them, sight unseen, and pay them in advance for a modeling/photography/makeup job. If you follow through with this scam, you will send the scammer YOUR real money and will have to pay back whatever they stole.

Up-Front Fee “Mystery Shopper” scams

This is a typical scam that might be tricky to spot but always has a recurring theme – you giving away your money!

Spot it:

  1. The scammer wants to recruit you (for an agency, for a huge photo shoot or seminar, etc.)This is your lucky break!
  2. You may be asked to send money before signing a contract for administrative or seminar fees, or for transportation costs.
  3. You may actually meet someone and then be asked to pay in order to start working.

Understand it:

  1. The scammer is counting on your desperation to do anything to get work.
  2. Professionals do not generally make you pay them before you work together.

Bottom line: Being asked to pay someone before you work with them is always suspicious, and you should ask for a contract before handing over ANY money.

Spyware “Virus” scams

While you may be more likely to see this scam on Facebook or over Twitter, it may happen on Model Mayhem.

Spot it:

  1. Someone sends you a link to click on via PM, or you see the link posted in the forums.
  2. You may be asked to download a file to view a portfolio or roll of images too big to put on Model Mayhem.

Understand it:

  1. These links can download very harmful viruses and spyware to your computer.
  2. This in turn may disrupt the functionality of your computer.
  3. You may get phished!

Bottom line: Always, always be careful about clicking links online, and never download anything from someone without talking to them about it first. If you’re not sure, just don’t click or download!

But is this REALLY a scam?

If you think you might be getting scammed – you probably are! It is always better to be safe than sorry.

You can also use our Forum Search tool and find examples of scams posted by members who have received scam messages.

  1. Open search
  2. Search for the terms “Is this a scam?”
  3. You should find hundreds of threads on the subject.
  4. Read through some of these threads to get a good idea what scams look like.

OK – How do I report a phishing or scam message?

This is the easy part!

  1. If you were sent a PM on Model Mayhem, Flag the PM.
  2. If you were sent an email with a suspicious link asking you to login to Model Mayhem, forward it to mods@modelmayhem.com (We don’t need to see email scams.)
  3. Click on the Help! link at the top of the page and click Contact a Moderator.
  4. Send a report to the mods letting them know which profile sent you the scam message and that you reported it.

The mods will take care of the rest. Since most people sending scams have actually been phished by a scammer, we will help that person get back into their account.

Other Safety Tips

Don’t publicly use your login email address

If you have an email on your profile page, and it is the same as the email you use to login with, either take it off or change it to something else. Likewise, don’t post tags or leave comments with your login email. Not only is this half your login information, this is also how scammers send you those phishing emails to begin with! People on Model Mayhem can also always PM you for your email address.

Did we mention never ever telling anyone your password EVER?

Now enjoy the Mayhem!

Now that you’ve armed with some basic knowledge, you can go about your networking business without worrying about getting ripped off. And if every member of this community understood just these basic things, the scammers would be forced to move on to greener pastures!

Other Resources

In order to better arm yourself against them we recommend that you click these links for further information. It’s not just for models.

NEW MODELS; Learn about scams
What do scams look like?

Sources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advance-fee_fraud
The New Model’s Guide to the Industry and Scams
Western Union: Online Fraud

Learn more about general scams:
http://www.craigslist.org/about/scams
http://www.phonebusters.com/
http://www.419eater.com/
http://www.scambusters.org/NigerianFee.html
http://www.fbi.gov/majcases/fraud/fraudschemes.htm
http://www.modelingscams.org/
http://www.hotscams.com/blogs/learning-the-hard-way.html
http://www.fakechecks.org/

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