A model and talent agency in New Jersey will refund almost $100,000 to more than 100 customers after allegedly misleading them into signing expensive contracts for photo shoot services.  

Flickr User Debi Stith

Under the settlement to the lawsuit filed by the State Attorney General's Office and the State Division of Consumer Affairs, the state will receive $400,000.

Industry Model and Talent Studios, LLC, its successor corporation, InterFACE1, LLC, and their owner Roman Vintfeld also agreed to retain an Independent Compliance Monitor to ensure that the company complies with the improved business practices mandated by the settlement for two years at their expense.

"We alleged that Industry Model and Talent Studios misled many parents about what services they were paying for.  This settlement will not only get these consumers their money back, it also will ensure that going forward this company operates with complete clarity and transparency," said Eric Kanefsky, Acting Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs.

In the lawsuit filed in July 2011, the state alleged that the defendants misled consumers into believing they were a model or talent agency that could place someone in the modeling or entertainment industries when in fact they were only providing photo shoots and access to a web site where consumers could post their photos. Industry Model also was accused of misleading customers about the cost of its services and the terms of its contracts.

“Our settlement addresses the company’s past alleged bad practices and protects future customers by eliminating any ambiguity in its contracts, and by inserting a monitor to ensure compliance,” said Kanefsky.  “We always advise consumers to get all the relevant terms in writing and to understand what you are paying for before signing any contract.”

In addition to $99,590 in restitution, the defendants will pay the state $300,410 for civil penalties and reimbursement for legal and investigative costs.

Consumers who believe they have been cheated or scammed by a business, or suspect any other form of consumer abuse, can file a complaint with the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs by visiting its website or by calling 1-800-242-5846 or 973-504-6200.