18 May 2009

Scandal: World Supermodels Pageant caught in hoax by Australian Models

The organisers of a Taiwanese beauty pageant have claimed they were conned by a modelling agency when it sent Australian women posing as international contestants.

Models claiming to be from 24 different countries took part in The World Supermodel Pageant co-hosted this week in Taichung by the city's tourism association TMTA and an Australian modelling organisation, the Apple Daily said.

Esma Voloder of Bosnia was crowned the winner but Taiwanese organisers later found that nine women, including Ms Voloder, were all Australian models claiming to represent countries including Croatia, France, and Sri Lanka.

"I was conned by the Australians... I had no idea about this. I feel so foolish," organiser Huang Chih-hui was quoted by the paper as saying. Ms Huang said she had entrusted an Australian modelling organisation to recruit the contestants and admitted she did not check the women's passports to verify their nationalities.

The organisation's representative, identified by the paper as Gavin Dooley, rejected the charges but declined to provide any proof of the women's nationalities, the report said.

The Australian-born winner Voloder was quoted by the paper as saying that her parents were Bosnian refugees and that she considered herself Bosnian.

Taiwan's once-thriving pageant industry has been plagued by a string of scandals in recent years.

In 2003, Miss Taiwan Liu An-na was stripped of her crown after she was found to have bribed judges while the runner-up who replaced her was accused of working as a hostess in Japanese bars -- charges she rejected.