A 20-year-old British model has said she suffered a horrific ordeal at the hands of a criminal gang who attempted to sell her on the deep web to the highest bidder and asked for ransom in bitcoin.
The model, who identifies herself as Chloe Ayling, was allegedly kidnapped upon arriving in Milan for a photoshoot July 11 and drugged, assaulted, and locked in a suitcase, according to Italy’s Polizia di Stato.
Italian prosecutor Paolo Storari said: “The victim was doped with ketamine – then she was locked in a bag and carried for hours in a car.”
“Think what could would have happened if she suffered from asthma.”
Instead, she was released on 17 July, after six days of captivity near Turin, and taken to the British consulate in Milan. No ransom has been paid, according to authorities.
Italian state police said they arrested a 30-year-old Polish man named Lukasz Pawel Herba, who lives in Britain, on suspicion of kidnap and extortion.
Herba allegedly tried to sell her on the deep web for more than $300,000 (230,000) and demanded her agent pay a ransom to stop her from being sold in auction.
The man claimed to belong to the “Black Death Group”, an online illegal trafficking organisation, and said he had previously organised online auctions to sell abducted women on the deep web.
However, it’s unclear whether in the previous occasions, “the man actually kidnapped the women or made it all up,” police said.
After her release, Ayling told Corriere della Seranewspaper:
A person wearing black gloves came up from behind and put one hand on my neck and the other on my mouth, while a second person, wearing a black balaclava, injected me in my right arm.
I think I lost consciousness. When I woke up I was wearing a pink bodysuit and the socks Im in now. I realised I was in the boot of a car, with my wrists and ankles tied and my mouth taped. I was inside a bag, with only a small hole that allowed me to breathe.
The model said she screamed so much her captors had to stop the car three times. She said her feet and hands were tied to a chest of drawers while she was in captivity.
Ayling added that a man told her in English that his boss was upset because he saw on Instagram some pictures showing the model with a baby, and it’s against the group’s ruling “to sell mothers”.
According to some media reports, that’s the reason why Ayling was released.
Mail Online published a letter that the “Black Death Group” allegedly sent to the model upon her release, admitting a “mistake” had been made in capturing her because she’s a young mother.
“You are being released as a huge generosity from Black Death Group,” the letter read, before listing a series of conditions such as that there should be no investigation into what happened and she’d have to pay $50,000 in bitcoin within one month.
Failing to comply would “result in your elimination”.
An alleged advert for Ayling read: Girls can be transported globally, we have contractors for that, for a price … EU delivery is free, might take time dependant on current location and drop-off point. It said the auction would take place July 16.
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