Budding starlets have been warned of a 'sharp' increase in modelling agency scams as 45 people were arrested yesterday. Police raided the Golden Chance International Development Production offices in the Goldmark, Hennessy Road, Causeway Bay, after 30 complaints involving almost $1.3 million. The Consumer Council said a total of 227 reports of alleged modelling scams were received in the first five months of the year, compared with 203 for the whole of last year. Chairman of the Trade Practices Committee William Chao said opening modelling agencies was the latest buck-making trend among small business people. He warned the extent of rip-offs could worsen, particularly as students break for summer holidays. He said only 12 people who enrolled at the Golden Chance and another agency, which received seven complaints, got any jobs. The work paid $800 to $4,000, far short of the agencies' promises. 'These complainants were approached in the street or places like MTR stations or shopping centres with appealing promises of advertising and modelling work,' Mr Chao said. 'They were later prompted to pay an average of about $40,000 each in training and agency fees, but one cannot recoup that kind of money from appearing in an advertisement.' Mr Chao said the most serious claim involved someone who was charged $155,000 with promises of a singing contract. He warned it was not only 'pretty and naive youngsters' being preyed upon but 'the full spectrum' of ages and looks. 'The public should beware of strangers approaching them with these irresistible offers as it is usually too good to be true,' he added. 'People should take their time to read any document and get advice before signing on the dotted line. Be careful in handing over any identity or credit cards - you must first establish the credibility of the company.'