If you're looking to break in to the industry of modeling, you have to watch for deceptive people. Some people are looking to defraud you, guaranteeing a great career in exchange for up front payment. When the dust settles the only thing you'll have is an empty wallet.
Here are some warning signs that you ought to run away from.
1. Classified ads. If you find an advert posted somewhere - in a newspaper, on a newsgroup, etc - then think twice before responding. Successful agencies have tons of available talent, and they do not need to scour the mall. You may want to pay attention to open casting calls, but otherwise classifieds like these are a bad sign.
2. Requiring cash first. If the modeling agency charges you money up front before you can sign with them, then do a 180 and walk out the door. This is a clear omen that they are not making money on paid gigs, so they have to make profit elsewhere. If they aren't making money, then neither will you.
3. Requiring that you use their in house photographer. A successful modeling agency will tell you to get a port together along with some comp cards, but they won't force you to invest tons of money on their own photographer. You can look around and choose a photographer or comp card printer who you feel comfortable with. If they really want a specific photographer, then they will pony up the cash.
4. They want you to pay to take their modeling classes or whatnot. It's just a way for them to make money. It might seem more honest than a "signing fee" or something. But in the end it's the same thing.
5. They guarantee you calls. If only it were that simple. No one can guarantee that you'll get a paid gig as a model, and any company that promises that is just trying to sweet talk you. Chances are, they're trying convince you into giving them some money.
After you've been told about some of these gigs, they become simple to notice. The core idea is that the company wants to bring in as many potential models as possible, bill them up front, and ultimately throw them a few bones with a few casting calls. As long as people keep coming in the door, they don't worry you're back at Starbucks not working. They made their profit. Don't let that moola be yours.