UPDATE: Three missing Colorado women have online modeling profiles
Model speaks about how profile led to sex trafficking
Three missing Colorado women share several similarities: they're all young, pretty and have modeling profiles online.
Kara Nichols, 19, of Colorado Springs has been missing since Oct. 9. She told her roommates she was going to Denver for a modeling job and disappeared.
Kelsie Schelling, 22, of Denver, was last seen Feb. 4. She's believed to be in Pueblo where her boyfriend lives. Her empty car was discovered in Pueblo without any clues to her whereabouts.
Now we've learned about Raven Cassidy Furlong, 17, who has been missing from Aurora since Feb. 5. Police consider her a runaway, but her mom says she believes Raven could be in danger.
"She wasn't running away from anything here at home," said Raven's mother, Tonja Mahaffey. "I'm scared she was lured away."
Raven did call her father's home and spoke to her stepmom on February 26.
"The call was very short and Raven appeared scared, she said: "Mom, I was told to call and let someone know I’m safe, I’m safe. I have to go... I have to go... this isn’t my phone. I have to give it back now. I have to go now” and then hung up," said a post on the Facebook page dedicated to finding Raven.
Raven and Kara have modeling profiles on the social networking website Model Mayhem. KRDO Newschannel 13 found a modeling profile that appears to be Kelsie's on site called Explore Talent.
Jillian Mourning knows firsthand about the potential dangers behind modeling websites. Six years ago, the now 25-year-old professional model got connected to a "manager" on Model Mayhem. She says things went fine at first, but took a dark turn when she was in Arizona for a shoot.
"He came into my room with three guys, and they call 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."
Mourning said her manager went on to blackmail her.
"He contacted me and said, 'If you don't agree to continue to do these types of things, I'm going to put these videos of you being raped on the Internet and tie them to your name,'" said Mourning.
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.
"God was definitely on my side and looking out for me," Mourning said. "Because I really don't know how else it would have ended."
She's now a public speaker who shares her story and warns about the dangers of the modeling world. She's started an advocacy group called All We Want Is Love that fights against trafficking.
Mourning advises aspiring models to work with legitimate agencies and if they do make contacts on their own, to check references and research the people they're working with.
The owner of Model Mayhem, Internet Brands, said in an emailed statement 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."
Model Mayhem has an F rating with the Better Business Bureau.
Kelsie Schelling's family posted this statement on the 'Help Find Kelsie' Facebook page: " As beautiful of a person as Kelsie is inside and out, she is not an aspiring model. She was studying psychology and has aspirations to run a business. It is our belief that Kelsie's disappearance is not linked to a site that she logged onto once in 2006."
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