[Source: BBC Entertainment]
The owner of a Southampton-based talent agency says “scammers” used her brand name to try to attract aspiring models.
Abbie Hills said an advert looking for women to model an “upcoming fashion range” was posted on the job site Indeed.
The advert used the name of her agency, The Dazey Hills Company, claiming it worked with brands like M&S and Asos.
Hills said it was “terrifying” to think about what those behind the advert were trying to achieve. Indeed said it had removed the ad and banned the account
Hills, 27, told the BBC: “The industry is so oversaturated and competitive that if you see something too good to be true, and you have no knowledge of the industry or no education towards model safety, you might think to apply.”
Her company currently focuses on actors and hasn’t been representing models for a while.
The fake advert said the company was looking for “diverse” women aged 18-35 to model clothes for payment of £150 per day in Southampton.
“What I found most disheartening is that the unique selling point of my agency is that it’s outside London to help people get to the next stage in their career,” Hills said.
“So the fact somebody is using that to potentially exploit people is just heartbreaking.”
The advert also mentioned the company has a studio in Southampton.
“I don’t have a studio or office premises so that was really scary to me, thinking about them [the scammers] giving an address out to people – who are going to go to it?”
One of the people who applied was 19-year-old Emma, who didn’t want to use her full name.
“[The advert] was very sophisticated and professional, it was saying how you could get work during the very busy Christmas period,” she said.
Emma said she found the advert convincing because it had similar requirements to actual modelling jobs she had applied for before – like a request for headshots and close-ups of hands and feet.
“For young girls like me, it’s easy to get in serious danger as you don’t know who you’re talking to – there needs to be more regulation because these things happen a lot and the scams get more sophisticated,” she added.
“A lot of people who aspire to be models are hungry for jobs, and scammers could see it as an easy way to find victims. This industry is very competitive and it’s hard to get into.”
Emma only found out it was a scam when she found Hills’ phone number online and called her to get more information.
“My overarching fear was that people could potentially be in danger, with the best case scenario that they were scammed out of a bit of cash,” Hills said.
Indeed told the BBC they employ a “dedicated search quality team” who assess whether a job listing is real or not.
They added that they “remove tens of millions of job listings each month that do not meet our quality guidelines”.
Hills said she contacted the police but said they did not take any action.