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The Sound of Ideas

Consumer Affairs:  Vanity Scams

Posted Monday, September 27, 2010

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Ever get a phone call, letter or e-mail from someone saying you've won a prestigious award, or a publisher wants to print your life story, or maybe that your daughter has been spotted by a talent scout? Often these are nothing more than scam artists playing on peoples pride or vanity, soliciting money in the process. Monday on the Sound of Ideas, Consumer Columnist Sheryl Harris of the Plain Dealer joins us to talk about so-called vanity scams - the lures that draw consumers in like "be the next star" and how to spot them for what they are. We'll also hear from local and national experts about what it really takes to be a star, an author or award winner.


Other, Community/Human Interest, Courts/Crime - Fire/Law Enforcement, Parenting/Child Care


Sheryl Harris, Consumer Columnist, The Plain Dealer
Victor Wlaszyn, President, The Better Business Bureau of Akron
Mary Doria Russell, Award Winning Novelist
Paula Dorn, Co-founder, BizParentz Foundation

Additional Information

Avoiding Scams, BizParentz Foundation
Advice for Aspiring Authors, Mary Doria Russell
Don’t Get Taken by a Modeling Scam, The Better Business Bureau
THE event for aspiring child actors is one expensive talent show, Sheryl Harris, The Plain Dealer

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Kim in Shaker 9:30 AM 9/27/10

I am a voice teacher and, since the dawn of American Idol, I have now taught 4 students who I believe have been the victim of Vanity Scams. Three have been middle-school-age children who have a modicum of potential, but undeveloped talent, and claimed to have a “record deal.” No dance training, fairly unimaginative songwriting, little to no stage presence, vocal problems, yet somehow ready to be a star. The saddest thing is, they and their parents and grandparents (of little means) were, in all cases, so caught up in the dream and their blind belief in the child, that they were completely unwilling to heed my warnings. How can anyone so persuaded ever be redirected?

Joel 10:04 AM 9/27/10

why are vanity scams considered to be legal businesses? why are they not regulated or prohibited?

Kirk Miller, Alliance, OH 10:05 AM 9/27/10

I recently noticed a claim made by a well-known school photo company that our school district uses for their student photos.

The company proudly notes on their marketing literature and order forms that they give back millions of dollars to local schools.

In my opinion, this is offering a “kick-back” to schools. We parents are charged a pretty sizable mark-up on pictures of our children that we often feel compelled to purchase and the photo company gives some of that back to the schools as a way to ensure they are selected the next year for return business.

Does this fall under the category of “scam” or just foul-smelling business?


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