Just got another scam e-mail getting through the Yahoo spam filters with the headline: "Attention: Movie Extras, Actors, Models Needed Now!" ostensibly from the "CastingDept." (in the "from" address of the e-mail) or "Hollywood Profiles" (in the fake street address at the bottom with the "unsubscribe info"). Looks like a scam to me.
Here's the image that forms the bulk of the e-mail:
How do I know it's a scam? It's from the Romanians at webhostlowcosthost.com who have recently spammed out a rebate processing scam and a scam about how to run your car on water.
I actually did a little anti-hacker protection to keep my machine from being pwned (accessing the site using Opera on a Mac for security through obscurity, plus monitoring my system to see if any new processes spawned while visiting the site) and altered the URL to remove confirmation of my e-mail address and tried the URL. Apparently the Romanians may just be spammers, sending out other people's scams. The complex webhostlowcosthost.com URL sent me to a site called hollywoodprofiles.com with a video where Joey Lawrence tells you how you can make money as an extra in the U.S.A. or Canada.
Here are a few red flags:
1: They don't tell you how much it costs. They want you to sign up for a free trial and require you to enter your name, phone numbers, physical address, and e-mail address before continuing to any further information. I entered fake info and just ended up back on the front page with no error message.
2: The registered owner of the domain is "Domains By Proxy", which is basically a "private" registration, meaning the owners of hollywoodprofiles.com don't want you to know who they are.
3: They used Romanians to spam you.
4: Their terms and conditions isn't even proofread. Many words run together, and the paragraph stating how they'll keep on charging your credit card until you cancel your membership via the approved methods says that the approved methods are in paragraph 10. They're in paragraph 11. If they can't even make sure one single page is useful and professional, what can you expect from them for the service they'll be charging you for?
5: One of the things they push is how they'll provide you with an online portfolio so casting directors can find you. This is one of the oldest and most useless scam upsells in the business. Most casting directors are FLOODED with photos, resumes, and all sorts of other contacts. They don't have time to go searching around obscure internet sites.
6: Just because Joey Lawrence is pimping for them, does not mean they are legit. A number of celebrities have been burned by doing commercials or promo videos for products that range from dangerous to fraudulent, usually because they show up to collect their check and don't do any background investigation into the employer.
7: Notice how Joey never says the name of the company. Just says stuff like "our site" or "our service". This video can be used on scam site after scam site as they change everything but the video.
8: They're smart enough to disclaim that "Hollywood Profiles is not an employment agency, agent or teacher and does not procure, get, promise employment jobs or booking." At best, they're a jobs bulletin board, and they don't tell you where they're getting their info. They could be duplicating their casting notices out of Craigslist and newspaper classifieds for all you know.
9: They push how they have auditions all over the place, jobs that require no experience. If you go to the non-secure portion of their site, they have a search engine for searching jobs (of course, you have to call and register to reply to any of them). For Seattle, they list just 14. Of those 14:
- Five are for other agencies
- Five are for jobs requiring experience (camerama, producer, videographer, editor, modeling instructor)
- One marked "active" was for an actor to do a one-day shoot a week ago in Virginia with "must have own transportation" as a qualification. So not only do you need a jet to get the 3,000 miles from Seattle to Virginia, you'll need a time machine.
- two that are marked as expired and are both the same ad for a "reality competition show"
- and one offering $60 an hour for children to pose for a children's photographer's web site
So, in the nation's 11th or 12th biggest media market, only one active ad out of 14 that even has a snowball's chance of paying work, and only two more potentially legit opportunities that it's too late to take advantage of.
10: They don't offer any link for casting directors; not for posting notices or for easily contacting the people discovered via their search engine. And that search engine is creepy. ANYONE can use it to say find a blonde between 12-14 years old with a C cup (turned up 2 in Southern California). Creepy.
10. If you google them, you'll find that most of the links are complaints from people who paid them a $100 sign-up fee and then monthly fees ranging from $16-40 a month to get no work, didn't get promised refunds, etc.
The extras casting industry is one of the hardest in which to separate the scams from the quasi-legit to the fully legit. Your best bet if you're truly interested in this kind of work is to buy a book over at Amazon or find the highest rated book with the most reviews and then check it out from a library. Don't pay anyone to help you until you know a heck of a lot more about them and the industry.
Companies promising to help you get your break in writing, acting, or music scam millions from wannabes every year.
Hollywoodprofiles.com appear to be so shady in so many ways, even giving them any personal information poses a risk. Stay far, far away.
Best of luck to you all!