According to Italian police, 20-year-old British model Chloe Ayling says she was drugged and kidnapped in Milan in an effort to sell her to the highest bidder on the “deep web”.
The deep web, also known as the dark web, is a network of websites that cannot be found on search engines. It is often protected through encryption. Billions of dollars in drugs, weapons, and other items and services are illegally sold, traded, and auctioned off on the sites.
Lukasz Pawel Herba, a 30-year-old Polish citizen, was arrested on July 17 after he released the woman at the British consulate in Milan.
According to an ABC News report,
Ayling told police she arrived in Milan on July 10 for a photography job that was requested through her agent, police said. She was sent to a Milan apartment, but when she arrived, two men attacked her, loaded her body into a bag, and then stuffed her into the trunk of a car, she told police.
She said the suspect then drove her to an isolated cottage in Borgial, Italy, a village near the French border, according to police.
Ayling said she was handcuffed to a wooden chest in a bedroom of the cottage until the morning of July 17, when she was ultimately released and accompanied to the British consulate.
“She demonstrated a braveness and a strength of will that one would not expect in a 20-year-old,” her attorney, Francesco Pesce told ABC News. “What she has been through is truly terrifying and I hope that what she did to help the investigation will subsequently help other potential kidnapping victims.”
The alleged abductors used encrypted accounts to ask the model’s agent for $300,000 to stop the auction from taking place, claiming to work on behalf of something called the “Black Death Group,” which operates within the so-called deep web, police said.
Herba has been since charged with kidnapping for the purpose of extortion.