In a world where so many young women nowadays aspire to be supermodels like Naomi Campbell or Tyra Banks, there are inherently going to be very unfortunate cases of people abusing these dreams in order to take money from the young, determined girls.

It is a saddening problem, but one which former model, Katie Froud hopes to prevent. Her company, the Alba Modelling Information Centre, offers advice and help to those seeking to enter the modelling world. “I set up Alba,” she says, “to warn young wannabes about bogus and unregistered model and casting agencies.”

The idea of the attention, fortune and glamour associated with modelling has appealed to young girls since the likes of Twiggy and Janice Dickinson “the very first supermodel” became icons in the 60s and 70s, filling the pages of thousands of magazines while wearing the best and most expensive items of fashion. This is apparent today more than ever with dozens of new models starting every day, searching for their piece of the great cherry-pie called Fame.

The biggest problem seems to be the up-front fees that these unregistered agencies are demanding from their hopeful clients. The way official agencies work is for no money to exchange hands until the model in question is doing modelling work. Another problem surrounds the sad truth that a lot of these girls may not have what it takes to become a model, whether that is the wrong look, image, height, or whatever, and yet these bogus companies are still inserting the fallacy into these girl’s brains, that they too can become models.

This misappropriation can obviously lead to further problems, toying with the person’s emotions and dreams in order to make some money out of them. As Katie Froud says, “More often than not, many of these hopefuls should never have been told that they would be suitable for modelling. It’s a sad fact of life” she continues, “that lots of young girls dream of becoming a famous model, but sadly, not everyone meets the minimum height requirement or has the right type of look.”

Proper agencies should be registered with the AMA (Association of Modelling Agencies) or the FIMA (Federation of International Modelling Agencies) so it is imperative that when signing up to an agency that this registration is adhered to. If the agency is not registered to these organisations, then no action can be taken against them since they are not governed by the board of registrations rule. Another common scheme that these bogus agencies use to get money from aspiring models is to encourage their newfound clients to pay for a portfolio package.

This is not a system employed by major, registered agencies since a portfolio is built up over time using different photographers in order to achieve different looks. If the agency sends you to one photographer for a ‘portfolio’ shoot, it is likely that they are in cahoots and are only interested in the fee you are paying them. Using modelling competitions is a subdivision of this, asking for fees in order to enter your photographs into the competition.

Although it is true that registered, professional agencies do organise such events, they do not charge a fee for your entry. There are many other ways in which the fraud companies will try to get custom and it is not only those setting out with the burning ambition to be the next best modelling superstar that are at risk. As Katie Froud warns, “I’ve received numerous calls from parents whose children have been talent scouted, or have answered adverts in newspapers, and have found that when they have applied, they have been asked for a fee up front.”

Remember, real agencies generate their income through commission obtained from the model’s completion of assignments. Even if you haven’t been charged it is still important to remain vigilant as some agencies may even try to coax sexual favours out of clients in exchange for joining them. If you have any concerns over the way an agency is conducting business or if you have any queries or worries about an agency you plan to/have joined, you can contact Alba on 01980 595099 or their website at It is also advisable to contact your local Trading Standards Office to register your complaint.