British model kidnapped for dark web auction, Italian police say

Posted August 06, 2017

A BRITISH model was put up for auction on the internet with a starting bid of USD$353,000 (A$445,000) after being kidnapped and drugged when she showed up to a sham photoshoot in Milan.

She was subsequently drugged, forced into a suitcase and driven away to a house outside the city, where she was handcuffed and held captive.

A spokeswoman for the Foreign Office said: "We have been providing consular support to a British woman in Italy and are in touch with local authorities".

Her captors then dropped off the model July 17 at the British Consulate in Milan.

They continued that the 20-year-old was kept chained to a wooden dresser in the farmhouse while her captors attempted to sell her on the dark web for more than £230,000 and demanded the model's agent pay to secure her safe release.

Following the attack, the woman - who can not be named for legal reasons - was put in a duffel bag and taken around 90 miles to Borgial, an isolated village near Turin, before being released on July 17, police say.

Officials have released a mugshot of the suspect, named as 30-year-old Lukasz Pawel Herba.

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.

Herba allegedly offered the model's freedom in exchange for about USD$60,000 (A$75,000) and threatened to kill her if she told police.

But reports in La Stampa alleged Herba had contacted the model's agent and demanded the same £270,000 price for her freedom.

The unidentified 20-year-old was injected in the arm with the tranquiliser ketamine after going to what was a fake photo shoot at a venue near Milan's central station on July 11.

The woman was released after being held for six days and investigations are being carried out by authorities in Italy, Poland and the UK.