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I can smell a scam a mile away. Okay, my sense of smell is not really that good, but I can tell when something seems too good to be true. Often the red flag is in the writing. Sometimes it’s in method of communication. The example I will share today involves both.

In May someone I don’t know texted me about a casting. He included an email address. I didn’t reply until last week, but figured he got my number from a casting site or IMDb. Today I discovered there’s a 99.9% chance this is not a legitimate casting. Before I explain why, I’ll let you read the email message in its entirety.

My name is Steve Strike(Stevie), a professional Freelance photographer/Videographer and casting director for over 7 years with a background in advertising, marketing and promotion. I have been behind the camera as a clothed and in front of the camera as a photographer/Videographer as well, so I appreciate both interesting and helpful perspectives. I find both sides of the camera fascinating and creative in so many ways, which helps to transcend one’s own artistic and creative perspectives into a higher level of appreciation. I have worked with several models and have covered a lot of Fashion Shoot. Is quite unfortunate that my website is undergoing maintenance presently but will be more than happy to send it ones is back online.
This project is about a short video commercial for one of my major client, the commercial will be used in Asia to launch the new product(Maltex malt drink). The project will take 6 hours and we will pay you $900 and buy tickets for you to the venue of the project. We will cloth you and make you up for the project and there will be a 1 hour break in between the 6 hours period.  
 
You would be paid the initial payment of $300 to guarantee your participation in the shoot, as part of our working policy and ethics of our company, we give part payment to any client before we proceed with any job and balance immediately after the work.. Maximum security is guaranteed; you can as well come along with your pets or family to make you comfortable. As stated earlier this project is very urgent we will be taking care of your payment, accommodation and other expenses.The payment would be mailed directly to you alongside with your cloth allowance, shoes and costume fee for the shoot.
 
If you are interested kindly get back to us with your details as follows:
 
MODEL/ACTOR INFORMATION
 
1. Name on check:
_____________________________________________
2. Complete Mailing Address:
_____________________________________________
3 City:
_____________________________________________
4.State:
_____________________________________________
5.Zip Code:
_____________________________________________
 
6. Phone#:
 
Stage name :
 
Height :
 
Weight :
 
Age :
 
Gender:
 
Years of experience :
 
Measurements :
 
Shoe Size :
 
Skin Color :
 
Hair Color :
 
 
_____________________________________________
_____________________________________________
_____________________________________________
_____________________________________________
_____________________________________________
 
I here by represent and warrant that the above information is true and correct.The names listed above include my present name and every name that I have ever used including my maiden name, alias, nickname,professional or stage name.
 
Job Details
 
This project will take just a day of 6 hours with 1 hour break in between. The Shoot dates is between June 28th to 30th in Washington DC, it would be one of those dates as we have not conclude on the specific date. Please note that we only deal with Talents directly and not their agents. 
 
 
Steve Striker
PS Media
 
$900 would seem like an irresistible sum of money to any actor, new or experienced. But the message contains some important red flags the novice might miss. Let’s look at a few of them, shall we?1. Language issues
Spelling, grammar, and word choice mistakes catch my attention quickly. They often suggest someone whose first language is not English. It doesn’t take long to find several errors in the first paragraph. I’ll highlight them for you.I have been behind the camera as a clothed and in front of the camera as a photographer/Videographer as well, so I appreciate both interesting and helpful perspectives. I find both sides of the camera fascinating and creative in so many ways, which helps to transcend one’s own artistic and creative perspectives into a higher level of appreciation. I have worked with several models and have covered a lot of Fashion Shoot. Is quite unfortunate that my website is undergoing maintenance presently but will be more than happy to send it ones is back online.2. Vague or unknown product
I have never heard of Maltex Malt Drink, although a Google search showed me a Wikipedia page for Malta beverages. On the list, there’s a drink called Malta Maltex in Denmark. That’s the closest thing I could find.

3. Unusual project description
A web video, corporate video, TV commercial, spec spot, or industrial might be terms you hear in a casting, but “short video commercial” stood out to me as a strange phrase.

4. Unusual payment offered
The amount here is not my immediate concern. It’s the suggestion that the first $300 would be paid BEFORE the shoot actually takes place to “guarantee you participation.” That’s not standard anywhere I have ever worked as an actor.

5. Claim of website trouble
You should be able to see samples of projects shot, produced, directed, or cast by anyone who is interested in considering you for a project. Luckily, you can get past the supposed website problem mentioned here and get some real information but going to the link at the bottom of the email. According to YoModel, “Stevie” is in the Philippines—although the gig is supposedly in D.C. You can also search his email address and discover others who have heard from him: http://www.auditionupdate.com/?p=63255&s=3

As we all know, if an offer seems to good to be true, avoid it. But not every situation will be as obvious as this one. When you encounter a casting that seems questionable, before responding to it and sending personal information, ask a reliable acting coach, veteran actor,  friend, or family member to look over the information and give their two cents on it. It will save you a lot of time and hassle and keep you focused on the real opportunities.

Graphic courtesy of Laura Lee. See more of her work  at http://www.cobaltdesigns.biz/lauralee/prints.htm

Graphic courtesy of Laura Lee. See more of her work at http://www.cobaltdesigns.biz/lauralee/prints.htm

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