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Scam Alert

4 Scams Aimed at Movie Fans

Fraud, burglary among latest cons victimizing film buffs during the summer blockbuster season

Movie-watching malware. Summer is prime time for incoming emails that promise a sneak peek or full-length preview of new or upcoming releases. But it’s hoaxers, not Hollywood, behind these unsolicited offers. Click on the link and you could unleash computer viruses, including keystroke loggers that can capture your online banking account information or transform your PC or Mac into a spam-sending botnet.

Your defense: Don’t click on any email links sent by strangers. When searching online for movie trailers, stick to reputable websites such as Fandango.com and Hulu.com.

Casting agent cons. Do you dream about making it on to the silver screen? It won’t happen with a casting agency or talent scout who requests upfront fees for auditions or representations. Such “pay to play” tactics are done by scammers who advertise “Looking for Actors” in newspaper classifieds, their own bogus websites or in approaching you on the street. Legitimate agencies never charge upfront. They’re paid a commission after the gig is secured, usually by studios for the most available work for nonprofessional actors, which is as an “extra” in locally shot productions or scenes.

Your defense: Never pay upfront. False promises aside, realize it’s unlikely you’ll be the next George Clooney. To find work (again, usually for crowd scenes), learn about local filming opportunities — and legit casting agencies — through newspapers articles, not classifieds. Or, contact casting agents in your Yellow Pages (then vet them with an online search) or your city’s liaison agency to the film industry, which sometimes is a government office. Don’t expect a speaking part, but non-union “extras” can earn up to $100 a day, free meals and the thrill and bragging rights of being in a movie.

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