Brooke Luke, a 20-year-old makeup artist, thought she had her dream job in her sights when she was offered a position for an upcoming photoshoot. The person who emailed her claimed to be from Brides Magazine, which would make the job “super desirable.” However, things were not what they initially seemed.
Luke, from Sydney, Australia, received an email from a person who identified themselves as “Rosemary Leger” and claimed to be an editorial assistant at the magazine. The sender said the publication was looking for makeup artists for an upcoming photoshoot and stated that the magazine’s senior editor was impressed with Luke’s portfolio.
Since the opportunity sounded too good to be true, Luke emailed back, expressing her interest but also questioning the sender, trying to determine if the offer was authentic. The message came from a Gmail account, causing her to doubt that the job was real.
“When I first received the email, I thought it was a little odd that they reached out to myself as I am not an editorial makeup artist, but I was still excited that a company from New York had reached out to me and I could possibly endeavor a new part of my career,” said Luke, according to a report by the Daily Mail.
“I was suspicious about the email address, as it was under a gmail.com account, but the email ended in a confidentiality agreement, so I thought maybe this could be real.”
In a follow-up message, the sender said the position was “legitimate,” adding that the publication has “never been involved in anything illegitimate or fraudulent.”
Additionally, Luke was promised round trip travel arrangements and accommodations, as the photoshoot was supposed to be in Melbourne. Luke was also told that she would receive a $2,000 payment for doing makeup at the photoshoot and that the overtime rate was $200 an hour.
“The emails were very detailed in what the requirements of the job would be, what the payment would be and also explained that all expenses including travel and accommodation would be paid for,” said Luke.
“The scammer also explained how the magazine has never been a part of any fraudulent or illegal situations, which I did think it was strange. They felt the need to reassure themselves as a company in that wording, but it did still make me believe the entire job offer was real.”
“I was still unsure as to why a big company would reach out to myself; I do not have a large following compared to other well-known makeup artists, so I decided to think about it for the day before responding,” Luke continued.
“For someone with a smaller following, it sounded like a great opportunity to kick start or further our careers and get our names out to a larger audience.”
Luke shared screenshots of the emails on Facebook. After doing so, hundreds of other women came forward saying that they had received the same email. Some added that they were instructed to provide their passport, driver’s license, and bank details. Others were asked for $1,000 in Bitcoin to move forward with the job.
Luke soon discovered that the email was connected to a human trafficking scam. Makeup artists were being duped out of thousands of dollars, and there were attempts to lure some of them to hotel rooms.
Brides Magazine issued an official statement on April 18, warning others of the scam.
“While we love to engage with our audience and real-life brides, if and when Brides desires to use models, makeup artists, and other industry professionals, it is through agencies and all our email communications use @condenast.com in our email addresses. Brides also never posts modeling or makeup artist jobs to or uses websites to recruit industry professionals,” said the publication in the statement.
“Unfortunately many brands (Brides included) have been misrepresented by such a scam as of late,” the statement continued. “We are doing our best to put an end to this, but in the meantime we want to keep our readers as informed as possible. Please stay aware of any such spam.”