W.Va. AG sues modeling agency, photographer

Kyla Asbury Jun. 23, 2011, 11:35am

Darrell McGraw

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Legal Newsline) -- West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw is suing a modeling agency and its photographer after clients claim they never received photos, services or modeling contracts they were promised.

McGraw filed a lawsuit against Charleston fashion photographer Stephen R. Ross and WV Modeling Agency on June 23 in Kanawha Circuit Court, citing numerous complaints of failure to deliver photographs, portfolios, modeling jobs, a pageant and other services to clients.

The defendants engaged in repeated violations of the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act, according to the attorney general's suit.

McGraw demands an immediate halt to the illegal activities as well as full refunds of fees paid by affected customers.

Ross promised to produce photographs he had taken of customers, to create modeling portfolios for the customers and to obtain modeling jobs of the customers, but failed to do so, according to the suit.

In one case, a Charleston woman hired Ross to act as a modeling agent for her teenage daughter. She paid Ross $1,000 for a fashion shoot and assistance in building the girl's portfolio. The woman also entered her daughter into a modeling pageant, to be arranged and promoted by WV Modeling, which was canceled several times and ultimately never occurred.

In a flyer promoting the pageant, Ross misrepresented that his company was conducting a model search for top New York agencies including Ford Models, MC2 and Icon Models.

"Sadly, an entire industry has developed to fleece those who dream of becoming a model," McGraw said in a statement. "These enterprises prey upon people's hopes while betting on consumers' lack of knowledge about how the modeling industry really works."

McGraw's office began investigating Ross and his WV Modeling Agency, also known by several other names, after receiving complaints from consumers in the Kanawha Valley area.

Ross, who claims to be a fashion photographer and model trainer and agent, promises to schedule fashion shoots and assist consumers in building their photograph portfolios. He also claims he has connections with some of the top modeling agencies in the country.

The investigation by McGraw's Consumer Protection Division of Ross showed a history of not delivering on those assurances.

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