i-Team Investigation: Victims speak out about alleged modeling agency scam

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by Andy Treinen

WHAS11.com

Posted on November 23, 2009 at 10:08 PM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 24 at 1:06 AM

WHAS11 first told you about this story 3 weeks ago and since then phone calls, e-mails and letters have been pouring in.

Now, some results for some of the young men who say they're still being harassed. 

When we first brought you the story of Russell Claxon and his photographs we suspected his business Models Today LLC had burned some bridges but to what extent we had no idea.

Now, along with new allegations, we contacted a collection agency to find out if they know what kind of business Russell Claxon is running.

WHAS11 started an investigation 6 months ago after a call from model number 59 on the Models Today website named Kyle Dever. He won a small claims judgment against Claxon after paying $450 to sign up.

We found no evidence Russell claxon ever placed any of these models in modeling jobs, and neither did a judge

"You’ve shown me nothing to indicate that you're running a legitimate business. I think you're running a scam," Judge Jacquelyn Eckert told Claxon in Small Claims Court.

Since the story aired we've received literally dozens of e-mails from people who say they were victims of Russell Claxon.  We've had people show up in the lobby of the television station and have a list of phone calls from people who say they too want to see Models Today LLC put out of business.

To date 15 young men have filed complaints about Claxon to the Better Business Bureau and others have filed complaints to police including Eric Humphry who contacted WHAS11’s Andy Treinen after the original stories aired.

"There for the longest time I thought I wasn't going to be able to get away from him because everywhere I went I got phone calls threatening phone calls, I got letters," Humphry said.

Most recently convicted of theft by deception Claxon was sent to jail in 1992 for promoting prostitution.

We wondered if he was at it again after 7 of the complaints to the BBB mentioned solicitation or inappropriate sexual propositions.

Eric Humphry learned about Claxon's criminal past from our story and he wasn't surprised.

"He rolled over on his computer chair and he set down and put his hands on my hips and I said, dude you don't have to touch me. And then he kind of put his hands on the inside of my thighs and I said wait a minute dude. I said don't put your hands on me," Humphry recounted.

Humphrey left Claxon's home and never returned, but he's been hounded by collections ever since.
He's not alone.

Another man says he was desperate for cash when he agreed to have sex with men for money promised by Russell Claxon.

"I’m in a lot of credit card debt and I needed money very badly and I made a really bad decision," he said.

UofL freshman Houston Lundy says his mom saw our story online after he paid a $90 deposit and signed a contract with Models Today LLC. By then, Lundy discovered this wasn't about modeling.

"And he said what? Would you, you know, have sex with a guy for like $10,000?" said Lundy.

While Louisville Metro Police continue what they call an open investigation into Claxon and his business, many of these models are running out of patience.  They're getting text messages, phone calls, and letters from Claxon along with letters from collection agencies.

So we alerted Total Credit Recovery about our stories, and when we did they dropped Claxon as a client.

"We’ve closed all of his accounts we just don’t need that kind of client," said Dwayne Christie, Owner of Total Credit Recovery.

"I can't believe there were 49 but I understand. It makes sense because I’m sure everybody was trying to get out of it," Christie said.

When we requested Claxon's side of the story, he threatened to charge Andy Treinen with harassment.

After an initial, phone conversation Claxon and Treinen have corresponded through e-mails.  He called him a lame reporter and declined an interview upset that one model was interviewed without revealing his identity.

He also wanted to point out that Kyle Dever has been accused of harassment by Claxon for calling Claxon's house to try to collect the money ordered in court.

To both collection agencies and to clients, Claxon points to his LLC status with the Secretary of State's office as a business in good standing. 

When we asked the Secretary of State's spokesperson what that means, he explained it only means a business pays its LLC. fee. 

They don't monitor individual businesses in any way.

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