Howard chases woman running modeling ripoff

Thomas Bresnan, 20, wants to be a runway model. So, he responded to several ads on Craigslist from people offering their services. One of them was a woman using the name Taylor.

He met Taylor on the street downtown. She had no business card. But she brought him up to one of those work space offices. He gave her $100 as a deposit for modeling photos. Then paid a photographer $260 more when he had the photos made.

Next, he says, Taylor told him he could be put on her website where bookers could see him.

“She made all these promisies,” Thomas told me. “She said she was going to get me with all the brands and fashion week shows… And she hadn’t seen me walk. So, she didn’t even know what I was about.”

But her behavior and style of dress made him suspicious. He checked online. And Thomas found her name is really Judith DeLong and she has a long history of ripping off aspiring models. She’s been at it for at least 25 years. In fact, back in 2004 the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs shut down the operation she was running at the time.

Thomas had made arrangements to meet her again to give her another $200 for so-called “comp cards” that could be distributed to people who may hire him. They were meeting on the corner of 3rd and 59th in front of Bloomingdales. Thomas kept the meeting. But my photographer and I were waiting nearby.

I tried to get some answers about Judith’s behavior. But when she saw me coming she took off…right into Bloomingdale’s. I followed her trying to get her to explain herself. She asked the very polite Bloomingdale’s staff to call security. That was fine with me. We’d love to hear them inquire about the situation.

In the end, though, Bloomingdale’s asked me to take the issue outside and we agreed. We know people like Judith DeLong generally don’t pay back a dime to the people they rip off. Thomas knows that, too. But at least our story will be online for anyone who wants to check out her phony names and useless pitches.

And if you really want to be a model, go to an established reputable agency. Give them a photo or two. And that alone is likely all they need to decide about you. If they like you, they’ll pick up the tab for most of the other things, including better photos if needed.