Actors have been warned to verify unsolicited emails from casting directors, following several scams in which people have fraudulently posed as leading industry figures when contacting performers.
Equity recently issued safety guidelines via its website and told performers to beware of casting directors whose information could not be checked through the Casting Director’s Guild or official sites.
In the case that sparked the warning, an email account and Facebook page was set up in the name of a high profile casting director, and used in an attempt to lure actresses to auditions. One actress was asked to provide nude photographs after she responded to an advertisement for a lead role in a film.
However, she became suspicious and called the office of the bona fide casting director, which confirmed that no such audition existed.
Despite the casting director warning the imposter that they would take legal action if the behaviour continued, the person then went on to set up another email account and a new Facebook profile in the casting director’s name.
Following this, a second girl was approached via the fake email address, under the pretence of casting her as the lead in a film.
That person provided a breakdown of the character and a fabricated project title, and named a well known British film company as the producer. The actress was also asked for nude photographs, and was encouraged to select a flight from Scotland to London to attend a casting session.
After seeing a warning on Casting Call Pro about the first incident, the actress called the office of the real casting director, and discovered it was also a scam.
The casting director whose identity was stolen, and who has asked not to be named, said she was most concerned about the safety of the actresses involved, and urged performers to be “really cautious”.
“The only way we can help prevent this is to get people to pick up the phone and check with their agents,” she said. “In this case it is very rare that [my casting agency] would pay for travel, especially with an unknown actress. Normally we would ask someone to put themselves on tape.
“It sounds as though this person is preying on actresses. You’ve got the perfect set up – an actress, who hasn’t had any work in a while, desperate to do something, and prepared to put things to one side if she thinks it’s a recognised casting director, get on a plane and fly down to London.”
In a similar case of impersonation, an aspiring actor recently received emails from someone claiming to be an agent at Cole Kitchenn Personal Management and interested in representing the performer.
A fake email address had been set up in the name of agent Alex Segal, and the individual behind it told the actor they were using a personal account because of problems with their professional one.
The aspiring actor was asked for details of his experience, and was encouraged to meet. However, the actor spoke with Segal and realised that it was a scam before the meeting could happen.
Segal said he was concerned about damage to his reputation, as some of the emails contained insults about other industry professionals, but was more fearful for actors. “I am worried for actors receiving these emails and being lured into financial problems or a room with someone who is not who they say they are, more than for my reputation,” he said.
A spokesman for Equity said: “Any performer going for an audition needs to have as much information as possible about who they are going to see – is the casting director a member of the Casting Directors’ Guild? Do they have a track record in the business? Is the audition being held at a known venue, such as Spotlight?
“If the audition is by someone you have never heard of, with no listing on a site such as IMDb Pro, and is in a hotel room, beware. Don’t go alone, take a friend and check with Equity if in any doubt.”