An ex-cheerleader turnt blogger by the name of Brittney Cason hit the news this week after she uncovered what could be a large human trafficking scam centered around the Sochi Olympics.
For the record, many bloggers are contacted daily by companies and organizations seeking coverage and/or free promo and Cason admits that while she was originally skeptical of the opportunity, she did her due diligence, researched the talent agent, and decided to move forward.
Before even meeting with him about it, I did my research. He had a website displaying his credentials and his Twitter validated his connection with the industry, including interactions with celebrities and other professionals, and someone I worked with even validated his work history.
Meanwhile, he was very professional and extremely knowledgeable in conversation. He seemed as legitimate as anyone I’ve ever worked with.
But wait… a few weeks before heading to Russia, Cason decided to dig deeper and her decision to do so may have actually saved her life!
>After going through a lengthy application process of sending reel upon reel of my work and jumping through hoops to audition, I was told I was chosen by a production company in LA who works with the network to be their live event emcee/beat reporter, along with another credible sportscaster in the Charlotte area.
I again did my research and it all checked out. So I filled out a work visa, signed a non-disclosure agreement upon receiving a preliminary contract with my salary, and even got a round-trip flight itinerary. And in turn I rearranged my whole life so I could take off for a month to chase a dream.
Posing as a talent acquisition agent, this man was not only knowledgeable and professional, but he also did all the right things: he asked her to fill out an application and to see past reels of her on-air work.
Most bloggers would have stopped right there but Brittany made sure to do research. He had a website and twitter feed that looked like he worked in the industry and even the company he said he was with was legit.
So what tipped the blogger off? She reveals that just weeks before she was to depart for Russia, the ‘agent’ asked her to recruit more people for a ‘team’. Then she decided to dig deeper…
Then, two weeks before we were slated to depart for Russia, this “Talent Acquisitions Agent” said he needed to expand his host team and asked if I could get some more of my girlfriends in the industry to come to Sochi. I made some suggestions, then his “assistant” (who we later discovered through an IP search was really him) sent me the link to print out a hard copy of a visa application for a girl to fill out and give to him.
I spent four months applying and interviewing and he’s sending my friend a work visa without even seeing her work?
Now, my friend is really talented, but wanting her passport and social security number before her reel just seemed fishy to me.
It was then that Brittany decided to call the production company out in LA to check the ‘agents’ credentials, and she found out the company had never even heard of him!
Now she’s talking with the FBI, lawyers and could be in the midst of a sex-trafficking case!
Brittany offers a few words of wisdom to aspiring bloggers, models or entertainers stating:
Never talk to anyone about out-of-town jobs without your credible agent or manager. I regret taking advantage of the freedom my agency gives me to seek journalism opportunities on my own, as I should have directed this man to my booking agent directly to discuss everything from the moment he contacted me via my website.
In fact, the contact form on my site says to contact her for bookings (duh, Brittney!). But you get my point — just like the junk mail that comes to your house that reads: “Here’s a check for $350,000!” -– if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. There is no short cut to Hollywood, so don’t try to get on any other roads to get there, because they lead to dead ends.
While I want to say, I can’t believe this happened to me, all I can really say is, I can’t believe this actually happens. And it can happen to anyone. Even experienced, smart women can fall victim to the cons of a professional. And while I ultimately didn’t go to the airport to get on a plane for Russia, I know there are countless women out there, younger and more naïve, who would have. I survived to tell them not to let their ambition cloud their intuition.
I totally agree with Brittany about being cautious in these situations. Restrain your thirst and put safety first!
What do you think of Brittany’s bizarre story?
CLICK HERE to read Brittany Carson’s full blog on the story.