N.J. AG sues modeling agencies after 200 complaints
NEWARK, N.J. (Legal Newsline) - New Jersey Attorney General Paula Dow and the State Division of Consumer Affairs announced a lawsuit Tuesday against two modeling companies and their owner for alleged deceptive business practices.
Industry Model and Talent Studies LLC, and Interface 1 LLC, and owner Roman Vintfield allegedly deceived consumers by having them enter into written agreements to pay for services that would purportedly assist the consumers' children in obtaining modeling and acting careers. There have been more than 200 complaints submitted to the division against IMTS, formerly located in Edgewater, N.J., and Interface 1, located in East Brunswick, N.J.
The lawsuit alleges that the defendants violated the Consumer Fraud Act through unconscionable commercial practices, through making false promises and/or knowing omissions of fact and/or misrepresentations, as well as failing to provide copies of sales contracts to consumers.
"We allege that consumers were led to believe they would receive personalized assistance to market their children to prospective modeling or acting employers, but they ultimately ended up paying for expensive photo shoots and nothing more," Dow said.
The state is seeking restitution for consumers of approximately $170,000, as well as civil penalties against the defendants and reimbursement of attorneys' fees and costs.
Dow alleges that the defendants approached parents with children at theme parks and malls, commented on how attractive the children looked and obtained contact information from the parents.
Dow further alleges that the defendants then induced the parents to come to their offices for a free evaluation, at which time the defendants pressured the parents to sign contracts that allegedly included marketing services, but actually only provided for a photo shoot.
The complaint further alleges that the contracts the defendants required consumers to sign contained clauses preventing cancellations or refunds for scheduled photo shoots, and also waived the consumers' right to a jury trial and to assert any set-off, defense or counterclaim in any action.
An initial violation of the Consumer Fraud Act may result in a civil penalty of up to $10,000, with each subsequent violation subject to a civil penalty of up to $20,000.