This is a more personal blog post today: I was targeted for a pretty scary scam.
Ever get a job offer that seems too good to be true? And you hope and hope that it really is! I got a email yesterday from someone at Instyle magazine offering me a job on a photoshoot for them. It was all paid for and a super crazy paying job. Oh god how I was excited and flattered and then my logical self kicked in. Is this a real person?
Here is the full story and what to do when you get one of these emails. There are a few updates at the bottom please read these too!
I got this email in my work email account:
We are hiring makeup artists for the December edition of InStyle Magazine. I came across your profile on ModelMayhem while scouting for talents that will suit the case. I’d be glad working with you and if you are looking to expand your portfolio, working with InStyle Magazine is just right. You will be meeting new photographers, directors, studio manager and producers from California and New York. You will also be working with models from Louisiana.
Do reply if you are interested and I will give you further details.
Senior Beauty Editor Instyle Magazine
1271 Avenue, AmericasSuite 26-114, New York, NY 10020-1300
Obviously I first jumped up and danced thinking wow that modelmayhem site actually works. Lots of people seem to get great jobs from it and I have even had a few job offers that were legitimate from it. I was so excited that someone saw my work. But then I thought ” is this a real person?”. So I googled “Selene Milano Instyle magazine” and yup she came up.
I answered back thinking that okay, so this is a real person: it must be legit.
The Second email was sent the next day and I got even more excited. I freaked out so hard, calling my husband saying “OMG I get a free trip to make money!” I went through so many feelings, happy, pride, “am I good enough?” and then worried.
Your email was received and it shows you are willing to be a part of the shoot. This edition of InStyle Magazine will be shot in New Orleans on the 27th of November, 2016 and the crew is expected to be available from 9am till the end of the shoot, which should be by 4pm. Hotel accommodation will be provided for all. As for travel, a round trip e-ticket would be issued and sent to you via email at due time if you do not live within Louisiana. As for you residing in Canada, that’s not an issue at all as your travel, meal and hotel expenses would be covered by our company. We have also made an arrangement with our consulate so they issue a temporary work permit at our point of entry in New Orleans to any of our personnel who is not a resident of United States.
The shoots will be used for the magazine pages and the pictures will also be exhibited on our website. Therefore, you are required to be flexible, reliable, self-motivated, enthusiastic, with a professional appearance and a passion for delivering exceptional service. You must have excellent interpersonal, communication and listening skills. You should also have up-to-date knowledge of available make-up kits and beauty products.
You will be paid $1000 for your service with a 50% deposit on agreement. In the rare case of overtime, you will be paid $50/hr for the overtime.
You will be responsible for applying make-up aesthetically for models; Apply make-up to the models using a color palette and different tools such as mascara, sponges, eyebrow shapers, lip liners, brushes, and applicators.
Match skin color to color palettes to determine best looks.
Ensure make-up looks natural and well-applied under different lighting.
Apply touch-ups as necessary and remove makeup from clothes if some is transferred.
Wipe off make-up and reapply as needed.
Ensure appropriate action is taken to minimize unpleasant side effects from the use of specialist make-up techniques.
Maintain a clean work area and ensure all work instruments are sanitized in accordance with InStyle standards.
Ensure continuity in make-up and liaise with other members of the design team to ensure the overall look/effect is consistent and coherent.
Budget and order materials and equipment from our specialist vendors.
You stand a chance of making a reasonable amount from this deal, and even a noticeable fame. I believe that it will be a positive experience for you especially if you are looking to expand your portfolio.
Kindly let me know if you are fully willing to accept this job offer and can meet the above responsibilities listed.
This looks super legit right? It really seems like there is a job. They know enough about makeup and what would be expected on a photoshoot. Then I realized there is 1. no instyle header, 2. when they first emailed me, it wasn’t addressed to me, just “hi” and 3. there is no phone number listed.
I called what I thought was the same number and got a corporate office building admin for the Rockefeller corp and gave them the address and she told me they moved a year ago and currently that floor is under renovations.
I was still naivee enough to think “well maybe this lady hasn’t changed her email signature yet for whatever reason.” I really want this job in a city that I have never been to but really do want to visit, come on now who doesn’t want to go to Voodoo shops and visit the Lestat house?
I talked to my 3 friends who are photographers in the industry, they all travel the world for some really fun things so I wanted to make sure I’m not being too paranoid from watching lots of human trafficking documentaries on netflix and all the “Hostel” movies.
One said it seemed fine, but he is very out going and does a lot of gureilla photohgraphy.
Another said it sounded pretty professional and even the 50% payment up front was a good key to knowing if it was real or not. BUT he was thinking “why are they out sourcing makeup artists from little Thunder Bay to the states, I’m sure there are enough mua’s there of the same caliber as you. If the shoot was in Toronto or Winnipeg or somewhere closer it would make sense.”
My last friend said all the calling around I was going to do was a great idea, and she hopes it was real. She said it probably wasn’t because of the wage they were giving me was too much, the fact that they could fast track a work visa like that was strange and the fact that it was all free was stranger. A work visa from Canada to the US usually takes 2 months to process(says the Canadian consulate’s website) and costs around 1500$.
So I called the office for instyle and left a voicemail, I tried to track down a actual contact number for Ms. Milano on twitter and on instagram and left her some direct messages asking if it was her and letting her know someone is impersonating her if its the opposite of the case.
I called my friend who has family in the states and told her, she was too at first very excited for me. While I was driving to work she researched a bit for me and found out that the address wasn’t the right address. She contacted the building’s front desk and found out instyle isn’t there. The security officer at the rockefeller building at 1271 Ave said that he has been getting lots of phone calls about it. He asked if I could forward him the email and he sent it to security for Time magazine (they own instyle) and he has now confirmed its a scam.
I have messaged the moderators of modelmayhem.com, I have left voicemails, emails, direct messages for instyle editors and staff members, left my information and forwarded copies of this email to security staff for both buildings and the Time magazine corp. I am also now going to be sending this information as it has a date, time and place where these people will be meeting and looking for prospective young women who are just trying to make some money, to the RCMP, the New Orleans Human Trafficking Working Group @ www.endslaverynow.com and will continue to try to help as many people as I can.
I can not tell you that I know this is human trafficking, or a credit card or personal identity scam because they never asked for any of my information yet… I am waiting to hear back as while I was still in the “I hope its real, let me just test them.” phase I asked for more information and what else they needed from me.
As I kept looking into this type of scam and hoping that my “Hostel” joke was just that, a joke… nope. This came up:
However, the website that promises to connect aspiring models with the people who can help rocket them to fame is now being investigated for its role in the disappearance, rape and trafficking of more than a dozen women across the country. – ABC News 17 kmiz
“I thought at first it was just me,” said Doe. “But then I realized it happened to more and more women.” Flanders and Callum had allegedly been using the ModelMayhem.com site to lure victims to Miami since 2006. –Forbes.com
And more and more and more with headlines and tags of “sex human trafficking, rape, woman gone missing, etc.” when linked to this website.
I have seen almost exactly this scam but instead of Instyle it was PLUS model magazine. They issued their own warning and statement here. I hope that Instyle gets back to me or Time corp does so they can too make a news statement about this dangerous scam.
I hope everyone I left a voice mail with gets back to me sooner then later. There are 12 days left for this obvious pick up. I don’t know if they super scout out their potential targets, and if they do I hope you’re reading this and know your plan has been blown. I hope this has maybe saved some people who are smart enough to call and find out from one of these companies (the rockefeller security guards, Instyle magazine, Time magazine, model mayhem itself, the RCMP, the rights organizations I have contacted) that they don’t go!
It’s now very scary that I was so eager to hop on a plane to get a little famous and to get money for my kids right before xmas that I would of knowingly gone with a driver “to the location/hotel” and been another missing mom.
Well screw that. I am going to tell this story to everyone any anyone that will listen in hopes to put even the tiniest dent into this million dollar black market.
I will continue with this story when more people get back to me.
Have you gotten a email like this? Don’t just delete it! Press Report! Did they give you dates, places and times like they did in mine? Report it even more! Call any of the many human trafficking tip lines
National Human Trafficking Hotline CONTACT THE HOTLINE
Call the RCMP, the police, let your friends know!
- Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (http://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca)
- RCMP Scams page (http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/scams-fraudes/index-eng.htm)
- Competition Bureau (http://competitionbureau.gc.ca/eic/site/cb-bc.nsf/eng/h_00122.html)
- OPP fraud prevention (http://www.opp.ca/ecms/index.php?id=133)
Just deleting it doesn’t make it go away. You maybe 1 of 1000 girls they’ve messages, maybe 50 answer and end up believing the lies.. so what you’re not #51 right? what about the other 50? Report it.
When reporting use this website trace Ip address to learn how to find their IP address in your email, its really easy! that way you can give it in your report and they can find where the emails are coming from.
UPDATE Nov 15 830 pm
the real Selene just got ahold of me. she has 100% confirmed that this is a scam! she is very sad that this is happening. Instyle magazine is aware and trying to do something about it.
I feel so bad for her that someone is a using her name.
UPDATE NOV 16 11am
So they emailed me back again! still assuring me that they have this weird work visa deal, but now I have to buy my makeup kits they want me to have from a makeup artist named Nancy Rand.. once again I went and googled her, she is a real person. Man these guys are good… I saw on her website that her email is different then what they have sent me, so I am now speaking with her via facebook to let her know and she is aware and has contacted the police as well. I have filed a report with the antifraudcenter.ca and the RCMP. I am talking to CBC today, netnewsledger.com(the site I write for), Vice Canada and more. I am fully dedicated to letting people know!
UPDATE July 2017: <- saying update in my head sounds like the guy from America’s Most Wanted
It’s been 10 months since I first wrote this article and almost every week I still get comments and emails from different mua’s all over the world getting this type of scam email!
In Thunder Bay there was another suspicious email that was sent out, but after contacting the name and magazine listed and I spoke with the editor she did infact hire someone from Thunder Bay! I explained to her why she may not of have had many responses at first and why I was calling on behalf of another artist. I just want to reiterate that you should always find the listed contact information for the “person” contacting you to make sure that they are not a scam.
UPDATE July 2018
Wow the response from this article is incredible! I have had over 100+ other mua’s from all over the world contact me about this and there are 2 trends I started really noticing.
- Emails coming from a gmail, hotmail accounts. Using Instyle as an example when you go to their “contact us” section of the website you will notice all editors and other emails are firstname.lastname@example.org
- the offices listed are always from New York no matter what the location of the shoot is (even in Europe.. which come on we all know NY Vogue wouldn’t be handling that).
- the biggest of them all are these “here is my press pass/my work badge” they try to send to make it seem more legit. Here are 2 different ones that readers have sent to me
Funny how its a different business but the same press pass that doesn’t have either companies logos on it. and one is a picture from a red carpet event and the other is a selfie…terrible.
Key things to also look for: style, formatting and logos. When you own a publishing company and hire 100s of graphic designers: all your work stationary and correspondence would have the current logo and possibly style to it….or at least not look like something that would come with a version of windows 98 word.