Thunder Bay

Scams using modelling site 'scary' says Thunder Bay woman

A Thunder Bay, Ont. woman wants to warn others after she was targeted by an online scam, through a professional networking site used by people in the modelling industry.

When Scotia Kauppi became suspicious of a job offer, she decided to dig up as much information as possible

Scotia Kauppi, a makeup artist in Thunder Bay, Ont. says the message she received from scammers resembled legitimate job offers she's received in the past. (Amy Hadley/CBC)

A Thunder Bay, Ont. woman wants to warn others after she was targeted by an online scam through a professional networking site used by people in the modelling industry.

Although she didn't fall for the scam, makeup artist Scotia Kauppi said she is concerned about the potential for the networking website to be used as an avenue for those looking to scam, lure or in other ways victimize people. 

"I got worried for other people who are freelance makeup artists," she said. "This is how you get jobs and it's hard to tell what's a dangerous job offer and what's a scam, and what's a legitimate job offer." 

Kauppi said she recently received an email through the site modelmayhem.com. Ostensibly, it was from InStyle Magazine, offering her a chance to work on a photo shoot in New Orleans, La.

It was an exciting opportunity, Kauppi said, and it seemed legitimate. 

"All the wording and the lingo and the jargon that's geared to makeup artists was very strong," she said. 

"They're good at their job ... It's scary." 

Research revealed red flags

The frightening part came when she decided to exercise caution by researching the offer.

First, she called the New York building where the magazine office was supposed to be located, and talked to a security guard who told her the company had moved. Then she called the employee at InStyle who's name was being used, who confirmed that it was a scam. 

At first, Kauppi was concerned that the scam might be part of a human trafficking scheme.

Then she received another note about the job offer, telling her that before she left for the photoshoot, she would have to purchase some supplies, indicating that it was a financial scam.  It turned out that a makeup supplier's identity was also being co-opted. 

After writing about her experience on her blog, Kauppi said she has been contacted by others in the industry who were targeted by the same scheme, and has been thanked for the warning.

She also reported the scam, and all the information she collected about it, to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, and the RCMP. She said she wants to urge anyone in a similar situation to do the same. 

"Most people are smart and they just delete them. But deleting them doesn't solve the problem," she said. 

Kauppi said she intents to close her account with the networking site. 

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