Police: Man pretended to be talent agent to lure women

Posted at 6:24 PM, Aug 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-16 19:06:49-04

Tampa Police arrested a Brandon man who was posing as a talent agent and photographer online to lure women.

32-year-old Rade Malkovich is charged with operating an Unlicensed Talent Agency. Police say he was using the name of a legitimate agency, but would ask the victims to come to his home for photo shoots.

"The only thing I could think of is that something bad is coming down the line," Steve Benz, owner of Benz Model and Talent Agency, said.

Benz notified police about the advertisements after he was contacted by a woman who responded to Malkovich's craigslist post in April.

According to police, Malkovich would tell the victims that he worked for Benz but would communicate with the women through his own cell phone. The victims then started to call the agency's business number to confirm appointments and photo shoots. Benz immediately told the women not to meet with the person who they were communicating with.

"I'd say within a month, 5 to 6 calls at least," Benz said. "I was very mad. I was scared that something bad was going to happen and my name was going to be involved."

The ads were searching for models and offering $300 to $800 per hour, plus benefits.

"That's just absurd. Someone with no experience isn't going to get paid that much and as agents we don't take pictures. We work on commission. We set up jobs," Benz said.

Police say they don't know of anyone who went through with a photo shoot with Malkovich, so it's not clear what his intentions may have been.

"The potential for harm is very great in a situation like this," Tampa Police Sergeant Lisa Parashis said.

"I don't know what it's about. No comment. Still trying to figure it out," Malkovich told us when we asked what he planned to do with the women responding to the posts.

Police are asking any other potential victims to come forward.