If you’ve been around my blog for a while, you know how much we hate, HATE, HATE scam artists who prey on aspiring actors and movie fans (especially kids) with fake casting calls.
A new one involving Breaking Dawn, the final installment in the Twilight series, has come to my attention. BE WARNED! As I’ve done in the past, I’m going to dissect it, show you all the red flags and demonstrate how I did the research to uncover the scam artist behind it all.
So next time you get an email like the one below or see something online that sounds too good to be true, you’ll know how to dissect it yourself to find out if it’s bogus or for real. Take note!
By the way, I’m not going to post the name or URL of the company and give them free traffic, but this was forwarded to me from a real talent agent, whose client (a minor) received it. The girl did not have a profile on this scam website and doesn’t have any other publicly viewable casting profiles online. So the first question is: How did they get her contact information? When her mother replied to the email to inquire, the email bounced back: “no such mailbox.” Major red flag. I would have deleted this as spam right then and there. But let’s dissect the entire message anyway!
ANATOMY OF A SCAM EMAIL
From: Casting Department
Sent: Thu, Dec 3, 2009 3:36 am
Subject: Salem Area Movie Extras Needed for Twilight “Breaking Dawn” Casting in Portland. <---RED FLAG! All Ages Wanted, No Experience Needed, Make up to $300 Per Day!
- Shoot location has not been announced, so no casting is taking place in Portland. Also, productions never hire extras casting companies until a few weeks before principal photography is starting. Last I heard, Breaking Dawn won’t shoot for another six months or so.
“I noticed your portfolio online<---RED FLAG! and have decided to contact you regarding positions now available as a movie extra for the new Twilight “Breaking Dawn” movie in Portland.”
- Casting directors don’t casually browse the Internet and contact people individually to work as extras. You think we’ve got time for that kind of thing???
If a CD needs a thousand extras, he or she will contact all the TV and radio stations, announce a casting call and get everyone to show up at once. Or, if they have an established extras casting company, they will contact extras in their existing database and check their availability for specific dates.
“No experience is necessary, all looks/types are wanted and the pay ranges from $80-$250<---RED FLAG! per day depending on whether it’s part or full time.
“Casting starts next Monday<---RED FLAG! so you will need to register (FREE REGISTRATION)<---RED FLAG! as soon as possible. It will be lots of fun, a great way to make connections in the industry and pays well!<---RED FLAG!
“If you are interested CLICK HERE TO APPLY (registration is free).”<---RED FLAG!
“David Fox / Portland Casting Scout”<---RED FLAG!
Five simple words, yet so many suspicious elements:
- David Fox is a dubiously generic-sounding name. Plus, I live in Portland and I’ve never heard of him. A Google search for “david fox” + “casting scout” returns zero results.
- Nobody calls themselves a casting scout, unless they’re trying to get money out of you (in my experience). We are casting DIRECTORS. A Google search for “david fox” + “casting director” doesn’t turn up anything useful, either.
- If by some stretch of the imagination, I don’t know him because he just arrived in town for this specific project (which is not possible, since the shoot locations of BD have not been announced), he would at least have a resume on IMDb, right?
- Wrong. IMDb has no listing for an extras casting director named David Fox. Do you really think Summit Entertainment would hire someone with NO casting experience to work on their blockbuster movie? Check out the resume of the extras CD who cast their last film. THAT’S more like it.
“PS: We are the entertainment industry’s way of casting new faces and talent all around the world for movie extra roles.<---RED FLAG! With over 300,000 members<---RED FLAG! and thousands of Industry professionals (producers, directors, agents and photographers) [SCAMMY COMPANY] is the right place to find jobs! Thousands of jobs now available in all 50 states. We have been in business since 2005 and are a proud member of the Better Business Bureau.”<---RED FLAG!
- Aah. So now we discover that our beloved David Fox is not the extras casting director of Breaking Dawn, but in fact he works for a website that he claims industry professionals use.
Sorry, but professional extras casting directors have their own databases of local talent. They don’t hop on these websites looking for extras, otherwise they’d get swamped with useless submissions from around the world. Extras are always cast LOCALLY.
Oh, their scammy website probably has casting calls for some low-budget freebies, posted by indie filmmakers who don’t know any better, but no major production company is going to use a company like this. When they arrive in a shoot location, they hire a LOCAL casting company, with an actual office, phone lines and real people behind the desks.
- And by the way, when I searched this company’s name on the Better Business Bureau‘s website, it came back with a reliability rating of F (company name blacked out, to avoid giving them traffic):
If that wasn’t enough to convince you that the company is a scam, let’s check out what happens when you click the link in the email.
ANATOMY OF A SCAM WEBSITE
This page has some of the same information as in the email, but I will point out a few more red flags:
ALL EXTRAS CASTING IS LOCAL
“Place: (nationwide) <---RED FLAG!
“Female or Male – All Ethnicities – All Ages <---RED FLAG!
“By clicking ‘Apply’ button you will send an email with a link to your profile directly to the casting agent.” <---RED FLAG!
- Nobody does a nationwide extras casting call. That would be insane. Why would a casting director want 20,000 emails from extras who don’t even live in the right area? Extras casting is done LOCALLY. Period.
There are plenty of people who live near the shoot location, so there’s no reason for production to hassle with the myriad travel complications that could arise from hiring someone out of the area. If you want to be an extra on a particular movie, you’ll just have to move to where it’s shooting first.
Extras casting directors already have too much work to do and way too little time. They prefer to hire extras whom they’ve worked with before and trust to show up on time and behave properly on set. At the very least, they want local extras.
NO WAY TO REPORT PROBLEMS OR COMPLAINTS
- The links to report scams, spam and inappropriate content do not allow you to send a message; instead, they lead you to the registration page. I was not going to give this sketchy company my contact info just to report a complaint, so I read the Terms of Service to see if I could find any contact information there.
- The two email addresses I found in the Terms of Service where one can supposedly file complaints (abuse@___.com and legal@_____.com) both BOUNCED.
WHO IS THIS GUY?
- Next, I conducted a WHOIS search on the company name, but only came up with the contact info for a private registration site that keeps the registrant’s name anonymous.
- So, I did a WHOIS search on the domain name of the email address in the original email and–BINGO!–I found a certain Richard Fox (hmm, same last name as David–what a coinkidink!).
- A little more digging revealed this information:
* “Richard Fox” owns about 4,885 other domains
* is a contact on the whois record of 631 domains
* 1 registrar has maintained records for this domain since 2006-10-23 with 1 drop.
* This domain has changed name servers 2 times over 2 years.
* Hosted on 3 IP addresses over 3 years.
* View 15 ownership records archived since 2007-11-27.
* 3,881 other web sites are hosted on this server.
- In other words, a guy who spends a lot more time making money off websites than doing any actual casting.
THE FINE PRINT
So, what will it cost you to find out about a NON-EXISTENT casting call for Breaking Dawn? Well, if you’re unlucky enough to have signed up for the yearly subscription, you’ll be out a HUNDRED BUCKS with no refund. I found this on the TOS page:
“[SCAMMY COMPANY NAME] offers a monthly (30 days) subscription for $39.99 and an annual (365 days) subscription for $99.99. All subscriptions are billed for the respective amount following the last day of the subscription period. [SCAMMY BRAND NAME] memberships are subscriptions billed on an automatic recurring billing cycle. PLEASE NOTE THAT ONCE YOU HAVE BEEN BILLED AND SERVICE HAS COMMENCED FOR THAT BILLING CYCLE, YOUR FEE FOR THAT BILLING CYCLE IS NON-REFUNDABLE. NO PRO-RATA REFUNDS WILL BE GIVEN FOR CANCELLATIONS IN THE MIDDLE OF A BILLING CYCLE. [SCAMMY COMPANY NAME] also offers a $1.99 3-day trial promotion. The 3-day trial if not canceled becomes a regular monthly subscription of $39.99 after the initial 3-day trial.”
I’m sure our wily Fox is making a pretty penny off Twilight fans who did not recognize the scam that this is. And that makes me mad!
Please feel free to share the link to this page with everyone you know. Don’t let others fall prey to creeps like this.
[Edited to add this helpful link that also applies to acting scams:
US Federal Trade Commission:
If You’ve Got the Look, Look Out! Avoiding Modeling Scams]
[Also edited to add: Any “Breaking Dawn” audition advertisements that may appear on this blog are doing so by using keywords and are not endorsed by us. We do our best to block websites from placing bogus casting calls on our site, but some may slip through the cracks. Caveat emptor!
Twilight fans can keep apprised of any actual news we may receive about the films by visiting this blog, subscribing to the RSS feed in the right sidebar and/or by sending a blank email to email@example.com to join our Twihard mailing list.]