Fake reality TV casting calls: a warning

A casting call for SyFy’s Ghost Hunters posted to Craigslist is fake, according to the show’s production company, which issued a warning about similar fake casting calls, as have others in the industry. Reality TV has become another way to scam people.

The June 8 ad is for “25 extras for the tv show Ghost hunters (sic)” and consists of run-on sentences; a misspelled word in the headline (“awayy”); and implausible statements, such as asking people to show up at a house and “ask for Tory or Robert” and they “will do a little walk thru casting call at the house and those hired will be paid $15 per hour plus union wages.”

Pilgrim Studios, the show’s production company, warned people that the call is fake, insisting “This is NOT a legitimate casting call from Pilgrim Studios or Syfy” and adding that “Legitimate Pilgrim Studios casting notices will direct you to contact Pilgrim through its email, phone, and/or postal addresses listed on this website.”

Earlier this year, someone created a Facebook page that pretended to be Pilgrim Studios and, according to the studio, “invited young women to meet him at a hotel room under suspicious circumstances.”

Both of those should raise red flags to critical eyes, but the ease of creating and posting casting notices plus some people’s desperation to be on a reality TV show makes for a potentially bad combination. In addition, some legitimate notices have been written in ways that seem sketchy, such as obscuring details (the show will be for a “major television network”!), even if they’re just attempting to maintain secrecy.

Pilgrim added a general piece of advice:

“If you receive any casting notice or message, ALWAYS call the casting company directly to determine the legitimacy of the casting.”

Scams are spread over more than just Craigstlist. E-mail casting notices can be download viruses or attempt identity theft, while others may just be a way to get money.

SAG-AFTRA warns against scams in the entertainment industry, noting that California “prohibits employers or potential employers from demanding payment for employment opportunities,” which is also against SAG rules. One example it cites “was an attempt to get money from actors” via a faxed notice to SAG asking it to encourage its members “to audition for a talent-search program geared towards actors.”

Backstage has a list of 7 signs of a casting scam. Perhaps the easiest way to protect against being scammed is to take Pilgrim’s advice and verify the casting or production company is real, and then contact them directly.

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.