Although a top model can make as much as $50,000 a day, not to mention earn international fame, many more young women wind up as victims of modeling scams.
Some even compromise their own standards by paying money upfront or even taking off their clothes.
Supermodel and talk-show host Tyra Banks set up an undercover investigation to teach these young women how to avoid becoming a victim.
"I know that girls are really, really hungry to be in the modeling industry," she told "Good Morning America" anchor Diane Sawyer today. "And they feel that this industry is going to give them this esteem. … A lot of them will go to any expense to achieve this dream."
Because she has been so "blessed" with a healthy career, Banks said she was helping women understand the dangers and pitfalls of modeling scams.
In the undercover report, Banks invited women to be part of a photo shoot with a fake photographer and sometimes a female makeup artist and another female model. The fake photographer implored the young women to take off their clothes.
One potential model took her clothes off within three minutes of entering the room, Banks said.
"I didn't think it would be that easy," she said.
Banks said that having women in the room helped potential models feel more comfortable.
"All of these scam artists know that. … They use women as decoys," Banks said. "That was a device we used that I thought was very important."
One woman, however, declined to take her clothes off, although she stayed and continued to talk with the photographer.
"She did the right things. She brought her boyfriend with her, and she said no [to taking off her clothes]," Banks said. "She came in and already had the parameters drawn."
But the woman's mistakes, according to Banks, was that she didn't do her research because the photo shoot was a scam and she remained in the room with the photographer.
"I don't want to judge girls," Banks said. "The strong thing is safety. … In the news, there are girls, aspiring models that get killed at these scam-type places. … And I will not stop until I see this change."
Banks said young women had a consistent reason for doing what the photographer said: "He told me I'm beautiful."
Tyra's investigation into modeling scams airs today on "The Tyra Banks Show."