Voice-over scam victim speaks out

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 16 May, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 16 May, 1998, 12:00am

A woman cheated of $12,000 in a scam which promised her a job dubbing cartoon voice tracks yesterday warned others not to fall for the same trick.

Advertisements in a major newspaper and weekly magazine had invited applicants to come to a Mongkok address for a voice test.

In an attractive, newly-decorated office Ms Mok read a voice test - a conversation between a couple - and was told the good news that her voice had passed. The company would provide six free voice lessons.

Ms Mok would only be liable for a fee if she landed a job within the 15-day probation period, when she would have to pay $12,000 for eight promotional CDs of her voice.

After four lessons she was told a job had been arranged and she was relieved of her money. But the job never appeared. Neither did the discs.

'It is impossible for us to get our money back. But by publicising it we would hope that no more people fall into this trap,' she said.

Yesterday the offices were locked.

Consumer Council spokesman Kenneth So Wai-sang said last night the scam bore the hallmarks of the modelling agency racket in which thousands of people lost at least $50 million last year - with one advantage for fraudsters. 'Everybody thinks they have a nice voice,' he said.

Following a major raid in July last year, the modelling scam has subsided. The high-publicity given to a raid on Star Art Design in Harbour City, in which imitation firearms were seized, appears to have made most people wary of any modelling agency.

Victims claimed they had been threatened with the imitation firearms into giving up their bank card and account access numbers.

But despite the raid and records showing 1,200 people had been scammed of $20 million, no one was charged.

'The technique is difficult to get on a charge of deception,' Mr So said.

In the first three months of the year, the council received 50 complaints about the voice-over scam. Ms Mok said she knew of two others who also lost $12,000 at her agency.

A Labour Department warning this week over bogus summer jobs for youngsters also warned against bogus modelling agencies.