A British model has been left traumatised after she was drugged and kidnapped in Milan while her captor sought to “auction” her on the internet if her agent did not pay $300,000 (£230,000), Italian police said Saturday.
Police said the model, who has not been named, was sent by her UK agent to Milan for a photo shoot on July 10 and was brutally kidnapped the following day by a man who posed as a photographer. They are searching for at least one accomplice.
“The psychological pressure on the girl has been extreme,” said Serena Ferrari, one of the senior police from Milan involved in the investigation. “She was very afraid.”
When the 20-year-old model arrived at the fake studio near the city’s central railway station on July 11, she was injected with the drug ketamine before being undressed and photographed.
Her kidnapper and an accomplice then handcuffed the young woman, taped her mouth shut and stuffed her in a large bag in the boot of their car before driving her more than two and a half hours to a remote house in Borgial, a tiny hamlet 120 miles from Milan close to the French border.
She was kept handcuffed to a wooden chest of drawers inside a rented house for a week. Police said she was not raped.
Her British agent notified police when she failed to return to London and he received the subsequent ransom demand.
Lukasz Pawel Herba, 30, a Polish national from Szczecin who lives in the UK, was arrested by police and charged with the attack.
Police said he had confessed to the kidnapping, which investigators described as an elaborate plot that involved months of planning.
Milan prosecutor Paolo Storari described him as “dangerous”.
The model was held captive for seven days while her kidnappers sought to “auction” her through a “dark web” network named as “Black Death”, a group that investigators claimed had been previously investigated by Europol.
“Europol found traces of this group on the “dark web” a couple of years ago,” the chief of the Milan branch of Italy’s state police, Lorenzo Bucossi, told the Daily Telegraph.
“We don’t know if the accused is linked to an organisation or created his own version of Black Death.”
Prosecutor Mr Storari said it was unclear whether this organisation really existed or whether it was created by Mr Herba.