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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.

What are these scams?

The scams we are talking about here are commonly referred to as “Nigerian” scams or “419” scams, and classified as Advance-fee fraud. However, there is a twist to these “advance-fee” scams that we see here on MM: Rather than convincing you to send them money first, they send you money first, though the check is fake and worthless. You just don’t know that yet.

You get a check from them for a certain amount and then they use some ruse to get you to send a portion of that money to someone else. It could be that they want you to send a portion to a makeup artist for this supposed shoot, or to pay for studio time, or maybe they will claim that they accidentally sent you too much money and can you send some of it back?

Whatever reason they use to get you to send a portion of the money doesn’t really matter. What matters is that the check or money order that they send you is fake and worthless, and if you—thinking that it’s okay to send a small portion of the check you just deposited—send a check to someone else (that someone is the scammer) you will be sending them real money. Your real money.

Beware! #1

If someone sends you an email or message and wants to hire you for some job (be it a modeling job, a makeup job, a photography job, whatever) and asks you for your information so they can send you a check, BEWARE!

It’s 99.99999% certain to be a scam. You’re more likely to win the lottery, get struck by lightning and get laid by your favorite movie star, all on the same day, then for such an offer to be legitimate.

Let’s put it this way: If you needed someone to clean your house would you go online and randomly contact some stranger from out of state, and even from other countries, and offer to pay them in advance to clean your house?

The real world does not work that way, and neither does the modeling industry.

Yes, we know that you are exceptionally lovely and exceptionally talented and you’re thinking that you just might be the exception to this. Hate to burst your bubble, but you’re not.

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.

Beware #2

If someone contacts you and provides you with a link and wants you to click that link and login, BEWARE!*

They may offer some incentive for you to do so, such as telling you that you need to log-in there because they want to hire you for some job. Or they may claim to be a representative of MM and send you a link to a fake site that may look like MM. Again, whatever ruse they use doesn’t really matter, all of them are designed to do one thing: harvest your MM login information so they can access your account and send scam messages to other MM members, from your account.

Don’t let that happen to you. You are responsible for what happens with your MM account, so please be very careful with your login information.

The link they send to you may appear to be a link to modelmayhem.com, and if you go there, it may indeed look just like MM. Don’t be fooled.

They sometimes will “spoof” our email address. That just means that they will send an email that appears to be from mods@modelmayhem.com (which is our email address) but it actually is not from us. It just looks that way.

If you’re not sure it is from us and don’t know how to tell, simply send us a new email (don’t reply to that one) at mods@modelmayhem.com and tell us about the email and copy/paste the message. We will confirm whether or not we sent that email to you.

* Note: 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.

What do these scams look like?

Probably the best way for you to familiarize yourself with what these scams look like is to simply use our Forum Search tool and find examples. Click that link and then search for “Is this a scam”. You will find hundreds of scam messages that have been posted by other MM users. Read through some of those threads. Once you get a good idea what they look like, you can spot them a mile away and easily avoid them.

And, now that you’ve seen all the other MM users posting those messages and asking if it’s a scam or not, you’ll probably realize that there’s no real need for you to ask the same question. Hopefully, you already have your answer.

Should I take my email address off of my page?

When reading through those “is this a scam” threads, you may notice that many people will insist that you need to take your email address off of your MM profile page (assuming that you have it there), and for many that may be sound advice. However, there are valid reasons for having your email address shown on your profile page—some people simply prefer to be contacted via email rather than a private message on MM. That’s okay.

If you do choose to display your email address on your profile, please understand that you will get scams sent to your email address. But, if you know how to recognize them, it’s a simple matter of deleting them. So now that you do know how to spot them, go ahead and display your email address if you wish.

However, if that email address is the same email address you use for your MM login, you should understand you are displaying half of your login information, which makes your account less secure.  Your account is most secure if you use a login email address that is never displayed publically. If you’re concerned about having another email account to check, simple set that private email address to forward emails to your main account. That way you won’t have another email account to check.

And sometimes scammers will post casting calls and ask that you contact them via email, please make certain that the casting is legit before providing an email address. It is also good advice to never post your login email address in response to a casting call, whether that casting is on MM or not.

How do I report a scam on MM?

If you get a scam sent to your email address, it’s not likely that we can do anything about that. There’s just no way for us to prevent someone from emailing you once they have your address. But, if you get a message here on MM that you suspect is a scam, please do report that to us using CAM (Contact A Mod). The link to contact us is found under the “help” tab link which can be found at the very top, and the very bottom, of the page.

When reporting a scam message to us, please be sure to include a link to the profile that sent the scam to you, and copy/paste the message for us as well.

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.

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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