As of two mornings ago, my slumber was perturbed by a call from an odd number: 866.611.8672.
On the other end of the line was a man who with a distinct ‘I-am-Indian-but-not-really’ accent. As a Jamaican, I am at least Indian enough to pick up when an Indian’s trying to conceal their accent. I know I am going to raise some eyebrows with that one.
Anyway, he started with, “My name is Brdfkj3e(??), and I am from ExploreTalent.com.” There was an audible bustling about in the background. It didn’t take me but two µs to recognize that as a call centre.
He then proceeded to let me know that some mysterious casting director with no apparent name happened upon my profile, was deeply impressed, and wanted to cast me in his upcoming movie. The movie was sure to be a huge production, he said. In turn, he would ‘create a profile’ in which would be used to be sent to other casting directors(?)
“Are you looking to do modeling or acting?” Gee, shouldn’t all the relevant information be on my ‘profile?’
In truth, I had no recollection of ever signing up with ExploreTalent.com. Apparently, I must have, however, which goes to show that such a profile was archaic and severely outdated. “Okay, it says right here – you are living in Elmont, you are 19 years old, and you have a picture of you in an Indian outfit…” Strangely enough, even though I had relocated to Orlando since the past few years, I just, by some odd coincidence, happened to be in Elmont at that very moment. For the first time in years.
Were they fucking watching me?!
The part about being 19 years old was at least correct – 3 years ago, anyway. Goodness knows why I would have selected ‘Elmont’ in my profile, considering that not even at 19 years of age was I residing in Elmont. Hell, the last time I lived in Elmont was when I was in the 9th grade. I must have had some quirky rationalization as to why I claimed residence in Elmont at the time.
Anyway, I agreed with him, quietly deciding to not point out the discrepancies in his description to see how things would go along.
“What is your name again?”
“Bruce Dickinson.” I did not expect that. It was obvious to me that this guy was Indian. I almost had it in mind to ask which part of Bharat he was from and maybe bust out in Hindi.
“Can you please spell that?”
And he did, to which he added his call-back number, his extension, and informed me that he would be the one responsible for mediating between myself and potential casting opportunities. He would act as my go-to person for just about everything.
He told me that I’d have to post more pictures on my profile, but I cannot access my information right now until they ‘activate’ for me. Or some crap. And because I was ‘specially selected’ by the casting director, or some nonsense, it’s absolutely ‘free.’ Ah, that’s interesting. Free. Can’t argue with that. I’d also be getting 100 business cards. Rather unnecessary, I thought, as I already am quite content with my own. I merely stayed with the conversation on the basis of observation.
A well thought-out presentation, I thought. One that makes absolutely no sense.
The way he spoke was rushed, uninviting of doubt and questioning, and leaving little room for interjection. The hastiness of his tone was a dead give-away that whatever he was telling me was scripted. So, I decided to screw with him a bit.
“Well, could you send me an e-mail regarding this matter so that I can look it over and confirm for myself?”
“Your account is not yet activated.”
“Ooooookay. So send me an e-mail.”
“First, you have to give us your address so that we can go ahead and send you your 100 business cards.”
“Can you not send me one now?”
“No, ma’am, I can only send you one later once your account is activated.”
“And how do I activate it?”
“First you just have to give an address and your credit card number for the activation fee-”
“Oh. Silly me, I thought you said it was free.”
“It is only a one-time activation fee. Once you pay it, you will be subscribed to the service and you will receive 100 business cards to take with you to auditions. You don’t have to pay anything after that.”
I started to ask more questions. “Can you, perhaps, show me this profile of mine that you are gathering this information from?”
“You can go to ExploreTalent.com – blah, blah, bitchwhinecheese.”
I did as I was told, and oddly enough, I received no response whatsoever with the website. I was flipping through tabs otherwise, so I knew that there was nothing wrong with the internet connection itself.
“I don’t know why you’re not seeing it. It opened for me – no problem.”
“Well, nothing is happening on my end at all. I am not seeing anything.”
“Something must be wrong with your computer, because it’s working fine here.”
Shut your whore mouth and never insult my baby like that. “I assure you, nothing is wrong with my computer. I can access other websites just fine. I am only met with a blank screen when I attempt to access exploretalent.com.”
Now, I should have quelled my curiosity sooner and ended the call, but I didn’t. Sprint unknowingly did it for me. It came to pass that eventually, as we were talking, I could hear him, but he could no longer hear me. After several seconds of, “Hello? Hello? Helllooo?” soon enough, I could hear him utter quietly, “This talent is mad,” on the other end of the line before he hung up.
Less than a minute later, he called back. And of course, curiosity took over and I picked up again. He promptly returned to beseeching me to pay the hefty fee.
“No,” I responded sternly, “I am sorry. There is just no way I have that amount of money.”
Well, he attempted, there were other payment options. I could go with the $150 for a six-month payment plan, or the $70 for three months. At least, that is along the lines of what I can recall.
I was not having it. And he could tell, because he was starting to sound just a tad irate. When I expressed my caution to giving out my address to a possibly irreputable company over the phone, he made it obvious that he was beginning to get a little peeved.
“Look, just tell me if you are going to do it, if not, I will hang up, and you will lose this opportunity.”
“No, I am not.”
…And without any sort of greeting whatsoever, he hung up.
From what I can almost tell – ExploreTalent.com is NOT the scam. But I cannot be too sure. I do believe that the call was a result of people perusing these talent profiles and making a business of contacting these hopeful talents claiming they are from the website, and scamming the life out of them.
Lesson for the day, kids: If in any situation you are villianized for wanting to protect yourself, walk away. It’s your right to ask questions and to employ caution, and if anyone’s going to throw a hissyfit simply because you are trying to watch your own back, it’s not worth it. A reputable opportunity will understand and have no qualms in wanting to verify their authenticity. Secondly, it will always be much, more work to gain the favour of an actual agency, seeing as though they always have what they need and they are consistently overwhelmed with prospective clients.
So, that was my report of Fail for the day. Hope it helps.