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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Backstage Responds Re: Scammers

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It is encouraging that Backstage is so on-the-ball. As a follow-up to our blog about scammers who troll casting websites for victims, my lawyer friend Nance Schick received a thoughtful response from Backstage, and I wanted to post their comments here:

From:
"Castinghelp Backstage" <Castinghelp@backstage.com>
Date: Tue, 1 Dec 2009 18:33:40 -0500
To: Nance L. Schick<nance@nschicklaw.com>
Subject: RE: Back Stage - Modeling/Acting Scam Report

Hello Nance,

Thank you for contacting us about this!

Our “Find Talent” accounts (used by casting directors, agents, mangers, and entertainment-industry employers to post notices and find people for their projects) has been the target of numerous scammers like this over the past year – these con artists seem to be swarming over thousands of websites and are a serious problem. The scammers especially like modeling websites, un-moderated message boards, social-networking sites, and free sites like Craigslist – but lately they’ve also been targeting professional sites like BackStage.com with increasing frequency.

With over 30,000 legitimate pros using our http://BackStage.com/FindTalent Casting Center & Employer Toolbox system every year, perhaps it's inevitable that a few scammers are able to sneak in.

However, we have a number of security checks in place to help combat this, including: Our team of highly trained Assistant Casting Editors manually checks every single casting notice before the notices are published on BackStage.com. We’re able to eliminate 99% or more of scams from our casting/job notices in this way, and we disable all of the offending accounts we find along the way.

We also conduct regular sweeps of our “Find Talent” client database – both manually and via daily automated red-flag checks – to find people that are searching our Multimedia Resume Talent Database in suspicious or unsavory ways. Through this process we’re able to catch most scammers and spammers in less than 48 hours. However, regrettably, some scammers still sneak through. . . .

. . . So any time a thoughtful Back Stage user like you forwards us a suspicious email or scam complaint (as you’ve done), we can run a scan to see exactly who has been viewing your resume on BackStage.com. We can then investigate the full site-activity details for each of these users, to determine whether or not they’re a likely bogus/scam account. Again, we immediately disable these scam accounts. Luckily, Back Stage's readers' are usually great about letting us know about the scams they run into!

In this particular case, we’d already caught the scammer that contacted you – we discovered their scam over a month ago and disabled their account (completely blocking their account access) and sent them a cease-and-desist email. We’re sorry that they managed to contact your friend before we discovered the scam account, but glad to hear that you didn’t fall for the scam!

We’ve also been reporting these cases to the FBI and other authorities, but we've had little response so far.

However, we have been made aware of the fact that these scammers probably aren't specialized in casting scams – they use variations on the same emails to scam people in all sorts of different industries. And that's one of the things that make this particular type of scam pretty easy to spot once you're aware of it: In addition to having bad grammar skills, the perpetrators usually have a mixed-up understanding of entertainment-industry jargon and procedures. Ask them a modeling-or acting-related question and they'll send you back a bunch of malapropisms. And no audition necessary: They just want to send you a check!

We’re going to send out a SCAM ALERT email message to all Back Stage subscribers soon, to warn them to be on the lookout for these types of scams and to forward all suspicious emails to us via our Casting Help contact form at http://backstage.com/castinghelp

Although we’re working on even more ways to keep Back Stage super-secure, scam reports and feedback from users like you are truly invaluable in our constant quest to keep Back Stage scam-free.

Thank you,

Luke Crowe, National Casting Editor
BACK STAGE


If you need to see the original blog post about the scammers, click here to read.

Erin Cronican's career as a professional actor and career coach has spanned the last 25 years in New York City, Los Angeles and San Diego. She has appeared in major feature films and on television, and has done national tours of plays and musicals. She has worked in the advertising & marketing departments of major corporations, film production companies, theater magazines, and non-profit acting organizations. To learn more, check out http://www.theactorsenterprise.org.

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