GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A man is trying to lure young women to “model’ using a the name of a downtown Grand Rapids store, but the owner of the shop says it’s not legitimate.
Women as young as 15 have been contacted online and offered money to model.
The owner of the Gina’s Boutique on Monroe Center says this is a scary scam. She said she doesn’t need models and has no association with the person posting online.
“To know that somebody is out there using my store name to possibly hurt women or abduct them, it’s heartbreaking,” Gina Van Timmeren said.
Van Timmeren said that on Monday, a young aspiring model called the store to ask about the photo shoot. Van Timmeren had no idea what she was talking about.
“So then I really got concerned,” she said.
Then two other women called saying the same thing.
“Still losing sleep over it at night,” Van Timmeren continued. “I feel terrible. It’s really disturbing.”
One aspiring model told 24 Hour News 8 that a so-called photographer out of metro Detroit going by the name Jon Bineno reached out to her online.
“He messaged me on Facebook saying, that he needed to shoot models for Gina’s Boutique for two or three hours and he was offering $500,” said the 18-year-old, who didn’t want her name to be used.
She said she had just started booking modeling jobs and thought it could have been a good offer. She was interested until she received the address. It was an address of a park and the man wanted to meet there at 9:30 p.m. She got scared and backed out.
“I’m glad I didn’t go, because who knows where I could be right now,” she said.
It’s unclear how many teens and women the so-called photographer reached out to. None of the women who called Gina’s actually met him. One woman says the scammer is also using Craigslist.
Police in Grand Rapids and metro Detroit are on the case. If you have any information on the person behind the hoax, you’re asked to call the Grand Rapids Police Department at 616.456.3400 or Silent Observer at 616.774.2345.