Three young women who disappeared in Colorado reportedly all had profiles on modeling social networking sites.
According to Fox 31, The National Women’s Coalition Against Violence & Exploitation says Kara Nichols and Raven Furlong both had profiles on ModelMayhem.com. The group says the site is a common link in several cases of missing girls.
“We’re up to 13 or 14 cases that we’re familiar with,” the organization’s co-founder, Michelle Bart, told Fox 31.
Nichols, 19, of Colorado Springs, has been missing since Oct. 9, 2012. She told her friends she was going to Denver for a modeling job and disappeared, KRDO Newschannel 13 reports. Furlong, 17, has been missing from Aurora since Feb. 5. Police consider her a runaway, according to KRDO.
A third missing woman, Kelsie Schelling, appears to have a modeling profile on the site Explore Talent. Schelling was last seen on Feb. 4. Her empty car was discovered in Pueblo.
Furlong’s aunt discovered her Model Mayhem profile after she vanished and saw some disturbing correspondence.
“The photographers asking her to do nude photographs after asking her if she was 18 and her telling them no,” Buckley told Fox 31.
According to the station, Furlong called her family last month, but her mother says the call wasn’t normal.
“She said she had to go because it’s not her phone and they need their phone back,” said Lin Furlong.
Professional model Jillian Mourning, 25, says she learned firsthand the dangers of modeling websites when she was 19. She tells KRDO that she connected with a “manager” on Model Mayhem and was sexually assaulted during a shoot in Arizona.
"He came into my room with three guys, and they [all] proceeded to rape me," recalled Mourning. "They took pictures of it, and would even show me pictures of things that I was doing, and videotaped the whole thing."
She says at 19 years old, she felt trapped. She said she was trafficked and forced to have sex with men for six months until her manager went to prison for an unrelated crime.
The owner of Model Mayhem, Internet Brands, said in an emailed statement to KRDO that it cooperates with all law enforcement investigations involving people on the site.
"Model Mayhem strongly believes that safety should be top of mind when doing anything online. Because there are scams on the Internet, Model Mayhem tries to educate users about scams and how to avoid them. The site offers detailed safety advice to help members understand what to look for when they are contacted by others. This can be found here," said public relations manager Joe Ewaskiw. "The site also has a feedback mechanism called "Contact a Moderator" that allows any member to let site moderators know of any suspicious activity they encounter. Moderators view and respond to each and every inquiry."
Police have not officially linked Model Mayhem to the girls’ disappearances, but the company does have an “F” rating with the Better Business Bureau, according to Fox 31.