A Perth modelling agent has been ordered to pay almost $12,000 in fines, costs and compensation by the Perth Magistrates Court for taking payments from aspiring male models but failing to deliver what he had promised.
Chrystofa Stratton Aarons, trading as CSA Models, pleaded guilty on 27 November 2020 to six charges of breaching the Australian Consumer Law by accepting payments from four male clients but failing to supply services as promised between June 2017 and October 2019. He was fined $8,500 and ordered to pay costs of $695 as well as compensation totalling $2,750 to three of the models, while the fourth client from Hamilton Hill has entered into a repayment arrangement.
Details of the four cases:
- A Redcliffe man entered into an agreement with CSA Models to supply modelling agent services in April 2017 and soon after paid $500 for flights to take part in a photoshoot in New Zealand in February 2018. The photoshoot didn’t go ahead and no refund was provided;
- A Mt Pleasant man entered into an agreement with CSA Models to supply modelling agent services in April 2019 and paid $200 for a portfolio photoshoot and $185 for ‘composite cards’. Neither were supplied and no refund was provided;
- A Melbourne man was approached by Mr Aarons to engage with his agency in September 2019 and was then told that there was a “secret” opportunity in the UK in January 2020 which required him to pay a $2,000 deposit, but he would earn $11,750. After paying the amount, Mr Aarons told him the job would take longer so a further $750 to cover additional travel costs was required, which was paid. The job didn’t eventuate and no refund was provided;
- A Hamilton Hill man was approached by Mr Aarons to engage with his agency in July 2019 and, in September 2019, was told of a potential photoshoot in Miami USA in December 2019 which required him to pay a $1,000 deposit to secure the flights. In October 2019 he was advised by Mr Aarons of another opportunity in Chicago USA in January 2020 which required him to pay a deposit of $2,000. Neither of the trips went ahead and no refund was provided when requested.
Magistrate Tyres said that Mr Aarons had “preyed on young and naïve people who were trying to start new careers in the industry” and that he “eroded their trust”. His Honour also noted Mr Aarons’ previous criminal convictions for dishonesty, one of which resulted in a prison sentence, but it has been almost 20 years since his last fraud-related conviction.
Commissioner for Consumer Protection Lanie Chopping said Mr Aarons used his perceived position within the industry to take advantage of the ambitions of vulnerable young people.
“These aspiring models put a lot of trust in Mr Aarons which he betrayed by failing to live up to the expectations that he created, choosing instead to resort to deception for his own financial gain,” Ms Chopping said.
“We hope that Mr Aarons has reflected on the consequences of his poor decisions so we will not see a repeat of these offences in the future.
“Given Mr Aarons past criminal record and, taking into consideration these more recent consumer offences, we would recommend that aspiring models carefully consider this information when deciding to engage the services of an agent.
“Certainly, they should not make full payment until they first receive the photos or other materials promised. Be suspicious if travel is involved and there is a demand that you pay upfront without first knowing the full details of the job and whether it is genuine.”
Consumers who believe they have been misled, or have paid for goods or services which they haven’t received, can lodge a complaint on the Consumer Protection website