TALLAHASSEE – Florida customers bilked by New Jersey-based InterFACE Talent can expect to receive partial refund checks in the next few weeks, the press secretary for the state Attorney General Pam Bondi said in an interview.
"To date, InterFace has paid approximately $95,000 toward the restitution portion of this settlement, which will be mailed out to consumers in the form of partial refund checks over the next few weeks," Florida Attorney General Press Secretary Kylie Mason told the Florida Record. "As the company is insolvent, the balance will need to be collected through bankruptcy and post-judgment proceedings."
InterFACE Talent agreed to pay approximately $26 million in restitution for allegedly duping Florida residents into upfront fees, lured by promises of nonexistent acting and modeling jobs, Bondi's office announced in February. The attorney general's announcement followed a consent judgment issued in the case by the 15th Judicial Circuit Court for Palm Beach County.
The settlement amount includes $22 million in restitution, as provided for under the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act; $3.5 million in civil penalties; and $500,000 in attorney fees. The civil penalty amount was calculated based on $10,000 per violation.
The consent judgment also bans the talent agency, and InterFace President and CEO Roman Vintfeld, from offering modeling, acting, singing, entertainment, singing or talent services in Florida.
Vintfeld had been ordered to pay $500,000 in restitution along with the companies and he also was required to pay civil penalties. However, as Vintfeld was unable to pay those full amounts, the consent judgment instead requires Vintfeld to pay $105,000 in restitution and $200,000 in civil penalties.
The attorney general's office reported receiving more than 200 complaints about InterFACE, triggering an investigation by the office’s Department of Legal Affairs. InterFACE and Vintfeld solicited, advertised and provided talent and modeling marketing services to Florida consumers from October 2009 to October 2014, according to the consent judgment.
While this is a Florida case, it's not unique to the Sunshine State, Mason said.
"This type of scam is common throughout the country," she said. "It takes many forms, such as modeling or acting classes, screen tests, or photo shoots that cost hundreds to thousands of dollars up front. We encourage all consumers to be cautious and follow the tips listed below to avoid falling victim to these types of scams."
Mason also offered the following tips for consumers looking for a talent agency, including: be wary of any audition that charges a fee to be seen by a casting director; be cautious of any talent agency representative that approaches children suggesting they have what it takes to be a star; be wary of any company that charges a fee to be listed in a talent database or requires prospective actors and/or models to have head shots taken on-site for a fee; shop around for head shots and demo reels to ensure the best price; and consider a talent agency that charges a commission for any money earned rather than an up-front agency registration fee.
"Florida talent and modeling agencies must be licensed with the state Department of Business and Professional Regulation," Mason said. "Consumers can check to see if the business is licensed online at MyFloridaLicense.com."
Consumers also should check the credentials of any casting or talent agency to ensure they are legitimate, and with the Better Business Bureau.