British model 'kidnapped in Milan for Dark Web auction'

Steve Phelps
August 6, 2017

A British model was kidnapped in Milan and detained for six days as her captor tried to auction her off online, Italian police have said.

Police are now working to identify Herba's accomplices and established what happened to the woman while she was help captive.

According to court documents, the woman was drugged by her abductor and held in a small town in the north-western Piedmont region of Italy.

The kidnapper used an encrypted account and then asked the model's agent for $300,000 to stop her from being sold in auction. In the house, "the model was kept handcuffed to a wooden dresser in a bedroom" until she was released on July 17, the police said.

No one took part in the online auction, so it was unclear if Herba had the necessary contacts to organise such an operation of was something of a fantasist, according to the police.

Authorities said the kidnappers were going to release her "because she had a 2-year-old child" and their "rules exclude kidnapping mothers".

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He also allegedly told the agent that he was operating on behalf of "the Black Death group", an organization involved in illegal trafficking on the dark web, a layer of the Internet accessible only through anonymizing networks like Tor.

The model was reportedly told she would be killed if she reported the ordeal to police.

Reports in Italy said the woman has given statements to police and prosecutors aided by lawyers from the British Consulate. He was jailed for investigation of suspected kidnapping for extortion purposes.

Police say they are still unclear whether the kidnappers were running an online scam to con "buyers" out of money or whether they actually meant to sell her on.

The 20-year-old woman, who has not been named, was allegedly kidnapped by two men on 11 July as she turned up for a fake photo shoot. He later moved the model to a farmhouse close to Turin, some 120 miles away, where she was held captive for six days.

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