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Hidden Cameras Expose Talent Agency Scam

Ruth To The Rescue Visits Ferndale Office To Get Answers

POSTED: 4:45 p.m. EST November 15, 2002
UPDATED: 6:18 p.m. EST November 15, 2002

A Ruth to the Rescue hidden camera investigation exposed what is really going on behind the camera at a local talent agency.

Talent Scout Agency

Hidden cameras exposed the conniving side of the catwalk inside Transcontinental Talent's Ferndale office, Ruth Spencer reported. Local 4's undercover producer and dozens of other model-wannabes attended a model open call after being selected by a TCT talent scout. Local 4's producer was reportedly pressured inside a private room to pay up.

Aspiring model Brandy McFadden said that she paid TCT almost $1,000 to have her pictures posted on the TCT Web site and she is reportedly not alone.

"I thought this was a dream that was actually going to come true for me," McFadden said.

Dozens of TCT clients told Local 4 that they have all been taken by the company.

TCT hires talent scouts to hit the streets searching for new faces, Local 4 reported. The Web site says that these scouts are highly trained and skilled, but Local 4 learned that may not be the case.

A former TCT scout, who asked Local 4 to conceal her identity as just "Corie," said that it is a job she regrets taking.

She said that she feels guilty and that it was basically just about money. If you want to make money, "you'll bring people in here," she said. She said that they told people that they work with the largest agencies and MTV, when none of it was true.

Ruth to the Rescue put TCT's recruiting practices to the test. The undercover producer filled out a TCT scout application online. Within hours, he received a letter from the TCT telling him that he would be a tremendous asset to the company. He has never scouted or worked in the entertainment business, but that doesn't bother TCT, the station reported. A Local 4 photographer and a volunteer also signed on, and received the same letter.

Ruth also signed up her 10-year-old dog, Lochie Spencer, who also received the same e-mail.

Local 4 visited the TCT office to get answers.

A TCT spokeswoman said that dozens of clients have gone onto successful modeling careers. Local 4 asked for specific names and numbers of Detroit success stories. She did provide a few names, but would only release first names and would not help contact the clients, Local 4 reported.

Better Business Bureau Tips On Reviewing Companies:
  • Get a copy of the firm's contract and review it carefully before you pay any money.
  • Understand the terms and conditions of the firm's refund policy. If oral promises are made that do not also appear in the contract, think twice about doing business with the firm.
  • Follow up with the corporate offices of any company listed in an ad by an employment service, to find out if that company is really hiring.
  • Be wary of firms promoting "previously undisclosed" federal government jobs. All federal positions are announced to the public.
  • Check with the BBB to see if any complaints have been filed about a company with which you intend to do business.

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