NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - “This whole thing is very embarrassing, me as a hard-working single mom you know trying to provide for my kids and trying to give them the best and this is what you do?” Naiika Bass of Avondale asked.
The Jefferson Parish single mother sounded a lot like the Jacob Good, the nursing student from Alabama we interviewed, and the New Orleans high school junior, model hopefuls who paid thousands of dollars for a publicity package that never happened and trips that got canceled.
“Everybody thought oh he’s so beautiful,” Bass said.
Interested in getting her infant son, Chase, into modeling, online she found Impact Modeling and Talent Agency based in New Orleans, and like the two students we previously reported on, Bass submitted a talent application.
“Carol Sterling she emailed back stating that she wanted to meet my son and us at this hotel on St. Charles,” Bass said.
“I was contacted by Carol Sterling,” the N.O. high school student said.
“I was contacted by Carol Sterling,” Good said.
All three got a response from Carol Sterling.
“She (Sterling) was telling me about different commercials that she had.. put him (her son) on calendars, put him on the web site just doing some publicity cards.. send them out to different name brands like Gap, like OshKosh B’gosh,” Bass explained.
It all sounded so exciting. A publicity package laid out in a detailed email, which included a visit to New York City for Fashion Week.
“She (Sterling) sold me with New York Fashion Week! I’m like I never been to Fashion Week,” Bass said.
So Bass paid what Sterling called her sister company, 1st Step Consulting “4 Models & Talent” $2,800 in May of last year, but she says Sterling came back with a proposal to ‘brand’ her son, meaning more exposure and more money.
“She (Sterling) was like well how much you willing to invest into this.. into your son? I was like I don’t know what you mean.. and she was like well.. she went into explaining all the things that could happen and she was like if it was my child, I would do about $7,000 so that’s when I was like okay,” Bass said.
After paying the initial $2,800, a couple of days later Bass charged more than $7,000 to her credit card, and then just two weeks later she charges another $4,220. The three payments in May of 2019 added up to more than $14,000.
“The way she talks, she kind of fast-talks you, and it’s like it’s so much information that she puts in your head,” Bass explained.
Bass and her family did take a trip with Sterling to Los Angeles last summer for a photoshoot, but instead of getting pictures of her baby boy the photographer only snapped shots of her daughter. Bass really wasn’t sure why.
“It was supposed to be L.A. It was supposed to be New York. It was supposed to be Georgia. It was so many trips” Bass said.
The next trip was scheduled for September to New York An email from Sterling to Bass laid out more than 20 people going, the itinerary, including a group photo in Times Square and a fashion show.
“She (Sterling) was all excited about that she had so many models in this fashion show.. and that was the first time ever to even have a baby in a fashion show,” Bass said.
But out of the blue, Bass said Sterling canceled the trip and informed her they’d be going to Las Vegas in December for a gala, model presentation and a book release that Sterling had been working on. It was the same trip the Alabama nursing student and New Orleans high school junior paid to attend.
“I kept calling and her phone kept going straight to voicemail,” Bass explained.
Just as the two students told us, the Vegas trip was fast approaching, but she had no trip details except that her son would be on a large photo for everyone to see. Even then, months after she paid Carol Sterling more than $14,000, Bass told us her son never did get a photo shoot.
In a November email to Sterling, Bass wrote, “can you give me a call asap? I’m starting to have some concerns.”
Then after the dates for the Vegas trip passed, Bass shot off another email to Sterling in December, which said in part, “I would like to get a full refund on the package.. due to service not provided.”
In a phone interview last week, we asked Sterling what happened. “The trip to Las Vegas, depending on what you’re referring to, would have been a book signing that is yet to be completed unfortunately,” Carol Sterling said.
She also told us, her book is still not finished, and she took on more than she could handle in trying to take model hopefuls on trips out of town.
"I understand each individual, and I have contacted each one of them perhaps not to the satisfactory of what they would like me to do. I had to turn the phone off because it was 100 calls all day long, all day long from the same people," Sterling said.
Bass wants a refund for the trips that were promised and the publicity package and photos.
“Her (Bass) daughter did her photo session in Los Angeles. We did not do her photos with her son.. that was the initial person we were working with, but I saw her daughter, fell in love with her, and said hey this kid has potential and starting moving ahead with her as well. But no they’re (publicity pacakges) not completed. It’s not something you shoot the photos and you’re done with .. no,” Sterling said.
All three model hopefuls paid thousands of dollars right away, and for months now, they’ve waited for refunds but haven’t received a thing.
We asked Sterling what she plans to do.
“They’re going to recover and receive everything that was offered to them,” she responded.
“If anybody is pressuring you into giving money, doing it right away.. then you know you need to step back a few steps,” Cynthia Albert of the Better Business Bureau explained.
Like the FOX 8 Defenders, Albert says the BBB has received several complaints.
“You have to be careful about anything like this. You’re talking to somebody on the telephone or even if you would see them in person, you really don’t know them that well. You have to do some research on them,” Albert said.
Carol Sterling’s daughter, Randi Lyn McClendon runs Impact Modeling and Talent Agency. When I talked to her for our last report, she told me Sterling was an independent consultant and never an employee. However, she didn’t explain how Sterling got access to model applicants, and why Impact MTA received some payments. If you’ve got a consumer issue, call the FOX 8 Defenders staffed with volunteers from the Nationa Council of Jewish Women or, fill out our online complaint form.