Beauty queen Mary-Kate McKay is warning aspiring models about rogue agencies who charge unsuspecting victims a fortune for fruitless fashion shoots.
Her story was shown on ITV Granada Reports on Thursday 8th May 2014.
The 23-year-old Preston Fixer, who was recently crowned Deputy Miss England, says she almost fell victim to the scam when so-called modelling scouts invited her to attend an exclusive photo shoot.
But after consulting online forums, she soon discovered it was a con where the agency would charge a large sum of money for an unnecessary portfolio of pictures.
She now wants others to be more aware of these rogue operators, urging young people not to get sucked in by their empty promises of fame.
‘I was really excited when the firm told me I was exactly what they wanted,’ explains Mary-Kate.
‘But my mum came across this website highlighting all the rogue agencies and unfortunately this was the top of the list.
‘You’re told to pay a deposit to guarantee you will turn up to the venue, then the studio put pressure on you to pay for the photos.
‘When I realised that this was a scam, I was devastated.
‘These agencies prey on vulnerable young people, who then feel tricked and stupid afterwards.’
Featured in the broadcast item is Laurie Kuhrt, Chairman of the Association of Model Agents.
He explains how these bogus companies are a ‘blot on the industry’.
‘What is so terrible is that it’s kidding these young people into thinking they’ve got what it takes,' he says.
‘These people are fanning the flames of the desire to be famous and then exploiting it ruthlessly.
‘An aspiring model does not need a portfolio.’
Marie-Kate adds: ‘I am doing some modelling now, which for me is really positive.
‘To have a voice on this issue is an absolute privilege and if I could stop just one person from being scammed then my work here is done.’
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