by: Kerry Kavanaugh Updated:
ATLANTA - Local families say they paid an Atlanta talent agency thousands to market their children for modeling jobs and now that agency has shut down. A recorded message states the agency is working to resolve operational issues.
According to the Georgia Secretary of State's website, ‘iTalent’ has been registered in the state of Georgia since May. Employees say since then, dozens of clients have paid iTalent thousands of dollars in exchange for a foot in the modeling industry door. On Tuesday, Channel 2’s Kerry Kavanaugh found the doors to iTalent locked.
"Just be careful where you spend your money,” said Carissa Stallings, 15, of Buford.
She says she learned that lesson the hard way when she ventured into the modeling industry.
"I went online and found a few websites and found iTalent, submitted a few photos, and they called me for a meeting," she said.
On their website, iTalent claims to have relationships with major companies and the Carissa says as a paying client, iTalent would do the leg work to market her to them.
"So I spent you know, a little over $4,000," said Carissa’s mother, Contessa Stallings.
Stallings says $1,700 covered the cost of the photo shoot and proofs, which they got. The rest paid for four years of contracted marketing services.
"I knew it was going to cost some money and I was willing to do whatever I could for her,” Stallings said. “So, year I totally feel duped."
Duped because iTalent's southwest Atlanta on Atlanta Industrial Parkway headquarters is now just an empty office.
"They found me in the mall. I paid $900 and I want my money back,” said client Amanda Stevens.
Stevens says she's been waiting on that refund for more than a month.
"It’s been a month now we haven’t seen anything yet, meanwhile they’ve taken the money,” said client Ruth Dampson.
Dampson says she paid iTalent $13,000 to sign up her entire family and hasn't heard from iTalent since their photo shoot. And, it's not just clients out money.
"If I’m giving you all that I have, all I’m asking is that you respect my time and that you pay me," said makeup artist Zoi Wiley.
She says iTalent management hadn't paid staff in a month.
Kavanaugh called iTalent's president and vice president. She emailed the company and visited the office, but she hasn't reached anyone yet. A recorded phone message says iTalent is closed while they "work to resolve operational issues."
Meanwhile, families and staff say their issue, they're out thousands of dollars.
"I totally feel taken advantage of," said Contessa Stallings.
Channel 2 Action News discovered the man who runs the agency, Roman Vintfeld, ran a similar agency that faced significant legal trouble in the state of New Jersey. The New Jersey attorney general sued that company, Interface LLC, in 2011 after receiving 200 consumer complaints.
Anyone who believes they've been affected by the closure can call the Governor's Office of Consumer Protection at 404-651-8600 or can visit www.consumer.ga.gov.