Facebook and Fake Modeling Agencies that Target Teens

Aspiring models and actors may get more than they bargained for if they respond to a Fake Modeling Agency “ad” on Facebook.  Law enforcement officials in the United Kingdom report that fake modeling agencies have been trolling the popular social networking site attempting to get pictures of minors in their underwear. These agencies claim the photos are necessary to determine if they could be a model.  These fake agencies are very convincing, even going so far as to set up websites and use company logos, sometimes even falsely assuming the identity of legitimate modeling agencies, making their solicitation even more believable.

Law enforcement official in the UK warn:

“Do not be fooled by these emails, a reputable modelling agency would never approach you in this way. Do not post pictures online of yourself posing in your underwear and if you are under 18 these photographs may be indecent under UK law.

You have no control when posting photos on the internet where they may end up and they could appear on the internet forever. If you do find yourself in a situation of this nature online you can use the CEOP Report Abuse Button which is now available as an app on Facebook or contact police.”  (Detective Sergeant Ed Jones, from Leicestershire Constabulary’s/UK Press)

The UK’s Child Exploitation and Online Protection Center recommends that children’s Facebook page privacy settings should be set to private, or friends only.  I would add that parents should regularly and unexpectedly check their child’s friends pages for those people who are really not so friendly.

Facebook is working with the police and a spokesperson states “The safety of the people who use Facebook is our top priority. Unfortunately there will always be malicious people who try to fool people, both online and offline. Just as you should check if someone ‘scouting’ you in a shopping centre really is a legitimate model agent you should also use the same caution on Facebook.

“We encourage people using Facebook to think carefully before they add a new friend and check that the person is who they claim to be and not to add or accept friend requests from people they don’t know. It’s against Facebook’s rules to use a fake name or operate under a false identity. We provide our users with the tools to report anyone they think is doing this via report links on every page of our site and we strongly recommend their use.”

Parents, a little supervision can go a long way whether it’s helping your child determine whether an email asking them to be an extra in the latest Twilight Saga , warning them about online sextortion or advising them about the latest online Facebook, Twitter or MySpace scams.

What is your best advice for keeping your children safe online?