Defendants Banned from Assisting Others
The Erickson Agency, Inc. and its owner, Patricia Erickson, have settled Federal Trade Commission charges over Erickson's role in Model 1, Inc. and Creative Talent Management, Inc.'s deceptive scheme to lure consumers into paying large amounts for modeling and acting training classes based on the promise of getting high-paying assignments. Ms. Erickson was paid to evaluate the suitability of consumers for Creative Talent Management and Model 1's training programs, and she allowed the companies to use Erickson's name and client list to deceptively market their programs. As part of the settlement, the Erickson defendants are banned from assisting anyone else in the marketing or sale of modeling and acting training programs. In addition, should the Erickson defendants ever operate their own training program, they are banned from the sales practices that were the hallmarks of Model 1 and Creative Talent Management's programs.
In May 1999, the FTC charged Model 1, Inc., and its president, Jason Hoffman; Creative Talent Management, Inc. and its president, Ralph Bell; and The Erickson Agency, Inc., and its president, Patricia Erickson, with misrepresenting their ability to get lucrative jobs for consumers who contracted for their modeling and acting courses. The Commission's complaint also alleged that the defendants misrepresented themselves as highly selective in scouting, screening and reviewing consumers for marketability as models or actors. Model 1, Inc., Jason Hoffman, Creative Talent Management, Inc. and Ralph Bell settled FTC charges on August 27, 1999.
Under the terms of today's settlement, Patricia Erickson and The Erickson Agency are banned from assisting any entity with the marketing or sale of modeling and acting development programs by:
- appearing in any promotional materials or performing marketing services to consumers;
- reviewing the marketability of individuals for professional work as actors or models;
- allowing a business to use the name of the defendants' clients unless the client hired graduates of that modeling and acting training program during the preceding three calendar years; or
- serving as a reference for any entity that offers modeling and acting training programs.
They also are permanently banned from working with Jason Hoffman, Ralph Bell, Model 1 or Creative Talent Management in any business engaged in the marketing or sale of any services for aspiring models or actors.
As with the settlement reached with Model 1, Inc., Jason Hoffman, Creative Talent Management, Inc. and Ralph Bell, Erickson's settlement prohibits Patricia Erickson and The Erickson Agency from falsely representing that:
- they are selective in scouting, screening and reviewing consumers for marketability as models or actors;
- consumers are likely to obtain substantial paid employment as models or actors through the defendants' efforts;
- their principal source of income is commissions on the fees paid to their models and actors by clients;
- individual sales personnel or other agents have industry expertise to assess consumers' marketability as models or actors;
- any person or entity has hired talent trained by the defendants; and
- the availability of specific modeling or acting assignments.
In addition, in the event that the Erickson defendants ever operate their own training program, they cannot:
- charge any non-refundable testing and processing fee in excess of $50;
- conduct mass scouting by holding in-person solicitations away from their primary business location using scouts or other sales staff who are paid commissions based on enrolling consumers in modeling and acting development services; or
- condition talent representation on consumers' payment of greater than 50% of the tuition and fees for modeling and acting training classes.
In addition, to allow consumers an adequate time to cancel any contract for future training, Erickson must also provide a 3-day cooling off period in which the consumer may cancel his or her contract and receive his or her money back less the $50 non-refundable fee, after the consumer has been accepted into any modeling or acting development program, and after the consumer has been informed of the total cost of the program.
Finally, under the settlement, the Erickson defendants must pay a $25,000 monetary judgment, which contains an avalanche clause that calls for the defendants to pay a $500,000 judgment if the court finds that either of them made a material misrepresentation or omission on their sworn financial statement. The settlement also contains various recordkeeping requirements to assist the FTC in monitoring the defendants' compliance.
The Commission vote to authorize staff to file the proposed settlement was 4-0. The final consent order was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, in Alexandria, on October 14, 1999, and was entered by the court on that day.
NOTE: This final consent order is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission by the defendants of a law violation. Consent orders have the force of law when signed by the judge.
Copies of the news release, as well as other documents relating to Model 1 are available from the FTC's web site at http://www.ftc.gov and copies of the final consent order will be available shortly from the FTC's Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357); TDD for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261. To find out the latest news as it is announced, call the FTC NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710.
Office of Public Affairs
Bureau of Consumer Protection
202-326-3309 or 202-326-2854
(FTC Matter No. X990059)
(Civil Action No. 99-737-A)