Parents skeptical of talent auditions in McAllen

Hundreds attended an audition for a children's talent search at McAllen's Convention Center Saturday afternoon.

One valley mother, who was there, said it all seemed like a dream come true for her child - that is until the organizers told her she needed to come up with almost $5,000 in 24 hours.

"It was pretty exciting my daughter was practicing on her script over and over and over. It felt like it was for real| it felt like something that was going to be a good thing for her and great opportunity for her," said mom Valerie Perez.

Perez said her nine year old daughter Kaitlyn saw a TV commercial advertising Disney auditions and was instantly hooked.

The two attended the auditions Saturday organized by the California based group called The Acting League.

Perez was told only a handful of talented children would be selected.

"She asked, ~Are you able to afford it if your daughter does go through with it? TM I said, ~Yes...I support my daughter in everything she does. TM And she did put a big star after I said that on the side of the sheet-I don TMt know what that was for, but that TMs what she did," recalled Perez.

According the scouts, Kaitlyn was one of the lucky few that made the cut. Perez said that's when they told her it would cost a total of $4,500 to jumpstart her daughter TMs career, and she'd need to pay at least $1,000 by noon today. The skeptical mother asked for a breakdown of the costs.

"She was eager to hang up. She wasn TMt telling me a lot of information and she said she would tell me everything on Sunday if I do choose to do it," remembers Perez.

We took her concerns to the Better Business Bureau in Weslaco. Spokeswoman Dolores Salinas told Action 4 it hasn TMt heard of the Acting League before.

"The burden of proof is on the company to provide you with that information especially if you TMre doing outlay of money," said Salinas.

The BBB has seen a large increase in people asking about talent industry.

In fact, the BBB said its complaint files show that less than 50% of all complaints against talent scout agencies are resolved|signifying the industry has more than its fair share of bogus operators who rely on misleading claims and promises to entice consumers.

"Don TMt let flattery or other things they say about you or your son or your daughter make you throw common sense out the window," warned Salinas.

Perez says she's glad she followed her gut instincts, but says it was hard to break the news to Kaitlyn.

It made me sad, said Kaitlyn.

"It TMs disappointing... very disappointing," said Perez.

The Acting League would not give us any informational brochures, licensing information or pamphlets on their company when we showed up at the convention center. Instead they directed us to their website and told us to call their office on Monday.

They did say they are not a talent agency or school, but simply talent scouts.