Fake modelling agencies can be added to the list of predators stalking young women and teens online.
A growing number of people – posing as modelling agencies – are contacting young women and teenagers asking for indecent images under the guise of ‘casting’ requirements.
In some cases, the images are also being used to extort the women and girls for money, according to an investigative piece from The Guardian.
In 2016, The Guardian reports there were 327 reported cases of fake modelling agencies asking for sexually explicit images in the UK.
Teenage victims told police they were asked to send topless photographs or conduct Skype interviews in lingerie.
“Social media means [scammers] can now reach a larger audience than previously, and if you are after a younger demographic then it’s an easy way to reach them,” DI Chris Felton, crime manager at the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, told the publication.
The terrifying text slang of teens. Post continues below.
Legitimate modelling agencies are also noticing a difference, with some fielding calls from concerned parents, worried their daughters have been asked – supposedly by “your modelling agency” – to undress in front of a camera.
“[Scammers] use names from our agency, a booker or agent,” Alex Haddad, the director of BMA Models, told The Guardian. “They have used different people in the past – our website has a history of who works here on it. They then contact people from Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook and pretend to be a headhunter or recruiter.”
“They will say they are scouting for models and ask for pictures, sometimes they ask for naked shots … We are getting phone calls from concerned parents saying, ‘Is this a scam? What is happening?’ It’s always young girls who are targeted.”
We have seen adult men pose as teenage boys to receive naked images from young women.
We have seen teenage boys themselves, sharing nude selfies of their girlfriends with other young men.
We have seen men use extortion to coerce young teens into sending sexually explicit images of themselves.
We have seen predators posing as Justin Bieber, again after sexual material.
Now, we are seeing are fake model scouts inviting young teens to send topless images and undress in front of a camera.
One thing is certain: There has never been a more important time to discuss online nudity and cyber safety with young teenagers, both male and female. The consequences of not doing so are terrifying.