A Wigan mother fears her family have been conned by a fake modelling agency who allegedly took money to “help” her children’s careers.
Gemma Hammond, a mother-of-three from Aspull, was thrilled when her two youngest children, Connah, three, and 10-year-old Imogen were accepted on to the books at Fearless Casting and Modelling Ltd.
But the excitement quickly turned sour when the company “failed to respond” after 38-year-old Gemma paid the £50 fee for modelling cards.
“It’s not about the money,” said Gemma. “I have sent them pictures of my children. I was doing that out of honesty- completely and utterly.
“I felt I had no option but to confront her on Facebook. I don’t want other people falling victim to her as well.”
Gemma originally contacted the agency on July 3 after seeing numerous adverts for the services on social media and decided to give it a go.
Her 14-year-old daughter Mia opted out, saving Gemma an extra £25.
Gemma added: “You had to fill in the details- name, age and send three pictures to put them on the books. Then it was £25 to get the model cards. I should have used Paypal. I can’t get the money back now. They said it takes about two weeks for all the stuff to go through.”
When the family got in touch with the agency’s director, Zoe Totten, on July 19, they say they were told that the matter would “be looked into”.
“After that the messaging service was stopped,” said Gemma. “I had to go via email and the emails weren’t working. No one ever responded. She (Zoe) would delete my comments on Facebook. Then she finally got in touch to say she hadn’t seen all of the photos - but there was another girl who was told the same thing.”
The last contact the family received was two weeks ago.
Fearless Casting and Modelling Ltd describes itself as “one of the UK’s leading casting and modelling agency” but is not listed on Companies House.
The business’s registered address, which can be found on its website as a property on Brightmeadow Close in Bolton, is also not listed on Companies House.
The agency’s “about me” section explains how the business books anyone from birth to 90 years old.
It says: “Fearless is proud to be one of few agencies in the UK to offer representation to children and adults, with or without any addition health needs and disabilities.”
Gemma has contacted trading standards and the details have been passed on to a central system which logs all complaints to look for trends relating to certain businesses.
She is urging people to be wary of any contact with modelling agencies who request the fees up front.
Social media has become a platform for others who say they have fallen foul of Fearless’s payment system.
One distressed mother wrote: “As soon as I said I wanted a refund she was all nicey nice saying she hadn’t received my photos I sent, when she clearly has. I’ve even sent my bank details to give her chance to give me the money back. Horrible to think we are just sending pictures of our babies to a scammer!”
Emma Rooney, also a mother who dealt with the company, said: “I opened a case on PayPal yesterday to get money back. I’m not bothered about the money I have sent her pictures of my children.”
On July 20, the company itself addressed rumours of corruption, posting on Facebook: “Parents we are aware a local agency is saying we are a scam, “We have had issues with this agent jealous of our success for almost two years. Please be aware police are aware and the IP address will be tracked. Anybody involved in trying to ruin the reputation of our successful agency will be taken to court.
“I am unable to comment but we need evidence of everybody involved to update police investigation.”
The Post made several attempts to contact Fearless Casting and Modelling but no-one from the company was available for comment.