The women were filmed at all hours of the day, in various states of undress. They were encouraged to wear bathing suits and dance provocatively for the cameras. Although they were told that they were part of a reality show to be aired on Turkish television, competing for a cash prize, the company instead sold naked pictures of the women on their website and asked users to vote for their favorites. For a subscription fee, viewers could watch videos of the women online, but despite what they told the girls, the footage was never intended for television.
The nine victims were all models from the Mediterranean resort of Antalya and the Aegean port city of Izmir. They reportedly responded to an ad seeking contestants for a competition-based reality show, and following a short interview, all nine women were asked to sign a contract. According to a Turkish newspaper, one of the "contestants" was a teenager, who may have been as young as 15. All of the women were told that they could not leave the villa unless they paid a fine of 50,000 Turkish lira (approximately $33,000). They were prohibited from speaking with their families, or from having any contact with the outside world.
"We were not after the money but we thought our daughter could have the chance of becoming famous if she took part in the contest," said the mother of one of the "contestants." "But they have duped us all." She says that while the women were not physically abused, they were told to fight each other and wear bikinis.
There are conflicting reports of how the women were rescued from the house. One Turkish paper claims that a girl got "bored" and called her mother for help, the Guardian reports. Another source says that the police stormed the villa after family members complained about being unable to contact the women. The HaberTurk newspaper said the women realized they were being duped soon after they arrived and quickly asked to leave the villa. A lawyer for the company that organized the fake show said that although eight out of the nine women had formerly complained that they were being held against their will, they were never actually held captive.
The men found in the villa were arrested on Monday, but have since been released.
Image via Cameron Self's Flickr