New modeling scam uses magazines, Facebook

Posted at 07/26/12 1:35 PM

Patty Pascual posted this photo of her conversation with a scammer using her friend's Facebook account

MANILA, Philippines – Facebook user Patty Pascual almost became a victim of a carefully planned out scam, which involved dragging the names of a friend, a models’ association and a well-known local magazine.

In a Facebook post that has gone viral, Pascual shared that scammers used her model friend’s account to contact her about two ” projects” -- one with the Professional Models Association of the Philippines (PMAP) and a shoot for Candy Magazine.

She was asked to bring clothes and gadgets for a ”must-haves” feature, and meet with a certain ”Melissa Arevalo” of Candy Magazine at a fast food chain in Quezon City before heading to a studio for the shoot scheduled last July 24.

”I woke up early for the shoot. I wasn’t feeling well so I tried to ask Ms. Melissa from Candy Magazine if I can just go straight to the studio. She told me NO, kasi baka hindi daw ako pansinin sa studio if I’m by myself and she said I have to fit some clothes and she wanted to have breakfast with me. So at that point, dun na ako talaga nagduda... like ARE YOU SERIOUS I’M GONNA TRY OUT SOME CLOTHES IN MCDO? AND YOU’RE FROM CANDY MAGAZINE?! LABO TALAGA.

”Dun na ako nag-start talaga mag-contact sa Candy Magazine, Summit Media and PMAP to confirm that shoot. PERO SOBRANG WALANG NAG-HELP SAKIN. WALANG SUMASAGOT FROM CANDY. I called someone from PMAP and she can’t confirm that shoot ’cause ’yung head daw nila is not answering his/her phone,” she wrote.

With doubt starting to kick in, Pascual asked the help of her friends and the police to verify if her planned modeling projects are legitimate or not.

”I went to the police station with my friend kasi natakot ako I told Ms. Melissa where I study. At first super takot kasi baka tawagan lang ako or hindi ako pansinin... Pero I still went there... I told them my friend messaged me sa Facebook, DUN PA LANG SA PART NA YUN ALAM NA NG MGA POLICE,” she wrote.

”They showed me a handwritten report ng isang girl who went to KFC KATIPUNAN kasi her friend messaged her din sa Facebook. She lost all her things. The staff raw made her go to the CR para i-fit ’yung clothes. When she got back, no one’s there. LAHAT NG GAMIT NIYA NAWALA.

”The police told me na if I went it’s either they’ll get my things or they’ll tell me ’okay let’s go to the studio now for the shoot’ and wala. By now siguro my family’s looking for me.”

Pascual eventually found out that her model friend’s Facebook account was hacked and is not even in the Philippines at the time, and that Arevalo is not from Candy Magazine.

She added that the modus operandi is rampant, particularly in the Katipunan area.

Pascual also posted the mobile numbers used by the scammers to contact her: 0905 692-5991 and 0905 325-5557.

Candy Magazine, meanwhile, issued a statement on Twitter in response to the incident.

”We’ve been hearing abt (about) scammers using our name to book models for shoots. Please be careful, guys! If it sounds like a hoax, it probably is. When in doubt, you can always call the Summit trunkline (451-8888) or e-mail us at infoATcandymagDOTcom to check. Stay safe, everyone!” the magazine wrote.

PMAP, meanwhile, posted this number on its website: 0917 521-7627.

Screen grabs of Candy Magazine's tweets in response to Pascual's Facebook post

How to avoid modeling scams

Modeling scams are rampant not only in the Philippines but in other countries such as the United States.

On its website, the US Federal Trade Commission posted some guidelines on how to avoid what they call a ”model rip-off,” which usually takes place in crowded malls.

Tips range from thinking carefully how you were approached for a modeling stint to checking out client claims.

The US-based Better Business Bureau, which takes a look at different types of scams, also gave the following tips on its website:

  • Do your research.
  • Beware of big promises and high-pressure sales pitches.
  • Read the fine print and get everything in writing.
  • Get references.
  • Complain if you’ve been ripped off.