Local News

Goldsboro Woman Victim Of Suspected Talent Search Scam

Posted July 29, 2005 4:17 a.m. EDT

— Many people dream of becoming a Hollywood star -- making movies, winning awards and earning lots of money. But promises of fame led to misfortune for some people in the Triangle area and across the state.

Investigators say a Charlotte woman hosted fake talent searches in several communities.


Talent Search Red Flags

Heather Yount thought personality and the right smile could help her 2-year-old grandson, Dylan, earn money for college. So, she answered a local casting call for models.

Yount took Dylan to a meeting at a hotel in Goldsboro, where she says a woman claiming to be from the Alexander Agency, spoke to the group of about 20.

"She was promising ads in the sales papers, catalogs -- maybe a little bit part," Yount said.

Yount signed her grandson up, gave the representative, Dawn Cockrell, a $145 check upfront, and took several rolls of pictures for a portfolio.

Weeks later, her money was gone and so was Cockrell. Yount says the agency's Web site was down and the phone was disconnected.

She finally traced Cockrell to Charlotte and got her mother on the phone.

"She was very apologetic," Yount said. "She said I'd been scammed."

So far, three other victims in Goldsboro reported the same thing, but they are not alone.

Chapel Hill police say Cockrell charged families there for auditions at Bounds Dance Studio. They say she promised about 150 children a part in a movie that did not exist.

Cockrell also faces identity theft in her hometown of Charlotte.

"I just want justice to be done," Yount said. "Sure, I'd like my money back, but that's probably not going to happen -- and I would give that up for justice to be done."

Yount hopes sharing her story will help other victims come forward.

Several law enforcement agencies are still looking for Cockrell. They say they are also compiling a list of victims from across the state. Anyone who thinks they may be a victim should call their local police department or

(919) 968-2760