Written on September 21, 2006 at 6:48 am, by Alfonso Surroca
I’ve been in an employment dry spell lately, and decided to take the plunge and post my resume at HotJobs and CarreerBuilder (via Yahoo! and MSN respectively). It wasn’t long before I got results. And naturally, they were in the form of a scam.
Dear Alfonso ,
I recently saw your resume online and feel you would be ideal for an immediate opening as a Casting Manager with our company. We are TooSpoiled.com, one of the most exciting website launches in the last few years.
Alfonso , if you are looking for a real opportunity and a real long-term career with an exciting cutting edge company, you may be the person we are looking for.
TooSpoiled.com is a combination of a modeling and acting database and MySpace.com with much more. We offer Models and Actors the opportunity to gain international exposure, interface with the world’s largest entertainment industry network, and make money through online advertising.
And, best of all, TooSpoiled allows Talent to earn money instantly. TooSpoiled allows each member to earn money by displaying ads on their portfolio page.
Unlike many other sites in the entertainment industry, TooSpoiled is 100% free for Models and Actors to join.
Casting Managers work with Clients and industry professionals that are seeking Models and Actors. Your background makes you an ideal fit for the position. We offer our Casting Managers the following:
* Highly competitive salary
* Incentive plan that can add 40% – 60% or more to Base Salary
* Medical, Dental, and Vision plan
* Expense Account
* Paid Vacation
* Tuition Reimbursement
* Rapid Fast Track Advancement Program
The person we are looking for is good with people; detail oriented, very organized, and possesses excellent communication skills. A college degree or equivalent experience is required.
Alfonso , if you feel the Casting Manager position is right for you, visit the link below and fill out the online application. (If the link does not work in your e-mail, you may copy and paste the address in your browser.)
Once I receive your online application, I will contact you within one to two business days.
Click here to be removed from any future employment offers.
Naturally, I was already expecting that this was baloney. After all, I’m not sure how making coffee at Starbucks for the past seven years, studying economics and digital media, and being an Internet geek in general qualify me as a “casting manager” for some kind of modeling website-cum-Myspace wanabe. Of course, how could one argue with a “highly competitive salary” with full medical benefits, paid vacation, tuition reimbursement and even an expense account? Yeah, definitely baloney.
Perhaps I should have stopped there, but I couldn’t resist at least a limited perusal of their website. After all, according to this e-mail, it was “one of the most exciting website launches in the last few years.” Wow, you mean as exciting as del.icio.us, or Flickr, Digg, or heck, even Google? I snickered to myself as I was met with quite possibly the worst logo of the web2.0 era:
It appears someone used an online Google logo generator, added a smiley face for no good reason, and finished it with a (not-trademarked) slogan. In case you’re wondering and already too disgusted to look it up yourself, the site wasn’t any better. It comes from the Myspace school of (bad) design, mixed with random stock photos and fonts–I counted a whopping fifteen fonts on the front page, and that’s when I stopped looking.
What is this TooSpoiled.com Site Anyway?
I Googled “toospoiled.com” and in the midst of countless “legitimate” hits for the dozens of “toospoiled*.com” sites the company had registered, found exactly what I was looking for: several mentions of TooSpoiled on scam forums. After sifting through reams of domain names and carbon copy e-mails coming from TooSpoiled in this thread on ScamFraudAlert, I found that TooSpoiled was something of a front for Impact Worldwide, itself an already notorious fake modeling site. It got even better. I found a mailing address for TooSpoiled, located just minutes from my home, right here in Orlando:
2295 South Hiawassee Rd (Ste. 308)
Orlando, FL 32835
In fact, it was the same address for Titan, a rather dubious-looking SEO website. After a quick map search, I found that they were in the Metro West area, just west of Downtown Orlando. Oh, I was definitely going to check this place out in person!
I also found some good dirt at this Scam.com thread. Apparently, the dude behind TooSpoiled/ImpactWW is Ayman El-Difrawi, a.ka. Alec Defrawy, a.k.a. Alexander Simon, and that’s just a very limited list of his aliases. That’s where this thing gets really interesting.
A search of “Ayman El-Difrawi” found some interesting information on this guy’s criminal background. Here is a sample:
In 1990, while working as the VP of a Maitland, FL loan company, Difrawi was arrested for illegally taping phone calls. He was arrested again in 1996 for fraudulent financial reporting after the FBI found that he’d receieved some $170,000 at a time he claimed he couldn’t afford an attorney. His rap sheet also includes such gems as conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud, copyright violations, Internet fraud, and even the child abuse of his former girlfriend’s son! This is one bad dude.
Apparently, Difrawi gets his all his money from an offshore trust fund run by his mother, Rafiah Kashmiri—read: he gets an allowance from his mommy. He’s been running criminal enterprises under many names, such as eModel, Options Talent, Wilhelmina Scouting Network, Transcontinental Talent, Impact Worldwide, and of course now TooSpoiled.
Rafia Kashmiri runs a small defese contractor out of Orlando, FL called Modasco, Inc. A map search found three separate addresses for “Modesco, Inc.”, all in the Downtown Orlando area. Apparently, one or more of the various incarnations of Difrawi’s modeling scam even operated out of one of Modesco’s offices. In other words, a known criminal enterprise operated under the same address as a defense contractor for the United States. A criminal enterprise with ties to at least one Mafia thug, to boot. Why Homeland Security hasn’t seemed to notice is beyond me, but I hope they like reading blogs.
Apparently, the Wilhelmina Scouting Network was Difrawi’s most high-profile case; he and his equally corrupt buddies somehow managed to sell WSN to Orlando’s own boy-band-factory Lou Pearlman in 2002. Apparently, this guy doesn’t do background checks, and he got stung big-time for not doing so. WSN was investigated for about two years by the Florida Attorney General’s office (Charlie Crist, now running for FL governor). The fiasco was covered in more detail in this Orlando Weekly article, but essentially, Pearlman was somehow able to get through the investigation after Difrawi and his cohorts left the company, and he’s now trying to live down WSN’s bad name.
After I felt I was done digging for the time being, I decided it was time to start being a good citizen. That meant reporting the scam to the Federal Trade Commission, the Internet Crime Complaint Center, TooSpoiled’s domain registrar GoDaddy, and the folks who let them have my e-mail address in the first place, CareerBuilder. I was hesitant to add the solicitation’s address to my spam filter, though, because I wanted to make sure I had any evidence in the future.
Next, I’m going to check out that address and see what’s going on there, and wait and see if I get a response from any of the organizations I complained to. Even if I don’t, it’s important that these people get a body of complaints if we want to do anything about these clowns at TooSpoiled.
Also, I’ll be looking in my inbox for legitimate job solicitation e-mails. I still need that job.