The criminal activities on the internet’s dark web (deep web) are very much on the go as we keep hearing more stories like this 20-year-old British glamour model who was abducted and held for many days in Milan, Italy by one Lukasz Herba who used a fake photoshoot as bait.
Chloe Ayling was kept for six days by Herba who threatened that she would be auctioned off on the dark web. He and his gang tried to sell her off with a starting price of £300,000 on the cryptic dark web.
Herba, a Polish national reportedly from the West Midlands, is accused of deceiving the young model’s agency with the promise of a fake photoshoot.
Upon her arrival at the photography studio, Herba and his accomplices drugged her with ketamine (a veterinary tranquilizer), stripped her and bundled her into a case.
She was conveyed in the boot of a car to a farmhouse in a remote “ghost town” near Turin. The gang kept her there in chains.
Stupid or not, Herba accompanied her to the British Consulate in Italy to drop her off where he was arrested by police lying in wait for them.
Ayling, in her testimony, claimed she was saved from being auctioned off in an online Bitcoin sex slave market because she was a mother. She attributed this to her Instagram photos showing her being heavily pregnant and others showing her son who is almost two years old.
The beautiful 20-year-old stated that Herba said, “You have a two-year-old child and our rules exclude mothers”.
According to police, Herba was in possession of encrypted information found on his computer related to material examined by Europol in the past in an investigation of the dark web. This linked him to the criminal organization called the “Black Death” that works on the dark web.
The Black Death group is known to offer mercenary services such as bombing attacks, kidnapping and the selling of girls as sex slaves on the dark web.
Police are still investigating if it’s the supposed rule of the gang of not kidnapping and trafficking mothers that led to the end of the illicit arrangement. They’re also trying to identify Herba’s accomplices and what took place during those harrowing six days that Ayling was in captivity.
Herba had demanded over £200,000 in Bitcoins from Ayling’s agency which was working with police to release her. The amount was later re-negotiated down to £50,000.
Police asserted that no fees were paid for her release.
Police had refused to disclose the victim’s identity to protect her from being hunted by other members of the syndicate. However, the model came out on her own in an interview with reporters to narrate her story.
Before releasing Ayling, Herba had threatened to kill her if she reported him to the police.
The British model told reporters on the doorstep of her mother’s home in Coulsdon, south London, that during the ordeal she had no idea if she would live to tell the tale.
“I’ve been through a terrifying experience. I’ve feared for my life, second by second, minute by minute, hour by hour,” she said.
“I’m incredibly grateful to the Italian and UK authorities for all they have done to secure my safe release.
According to Independent news, in her statement, Ms Ayling described the moment she regained consciousness after being drugged.
“When I woke up I was wearing a pink bodysuit and the socks I am wearing now,” she said.
“I realised I was in the boot of a car with my wrists and ankles handcuffed, adhesive tape on my mouth. I was inside a bag and was only able to breathe through a small hole.”
It is claimed her captors released her without harming her or receiving any payment when they learned she has a child.
Investigators said they found a letter after searching a computer belonging to the gang, which read: “You are being released as a huge generosity from Black Death Group. Your release does, however, come with a warning and you should read this letter very carefully.
“You are certainly aware of your value on human slavery market and must make a note that this isn’t personal, this is business. For your release we have taken a number of factors into consideration.
“A mistake was made by capturing you, especially considering you are a young mother that should have in no circumstances be lured into kidnapping.
“Second important factor you are very well aware of is your overall protection by one of our main and very well respected men who made a very clear and solid stance in your case.
“You will, upon your landing in your home country cease any investigation activities related to your kidnapping. You also agreed to sneak a pre-determined set of information in to the media and we will expect to see evidence that has been done in the near future.
“You and your family will, in no way ever talk about us in bad language and without respect. You have been treated fairly, with respect and we expect to hear exactly the same about us in return.
“You can release any information you have heard from MO while your (sic) holding as he would never give you any information that could harm our activities.
“We will not tolerate lying about anything that has happened.
“You have also agreed to pay outstanding costs of your release of $50,000. We expect that money to be paid in BitCoins within one month.
“Any sort of disobedience with the above will result in your elimination.”
According to Ms Ayling’s account to Italian investigators, she was told several potential buyers had been lined up before the kidnappers had a change of heart.
The New York Post reported that Ayling claimed Lukasz Herba told her he lusted after her while watching her shower.
The 30-year-old Polish national bought her underwear and chocolate during her six-day ordeal — and even slept in her bed, Ayling told police in a lengthy statement obtained by the British news outlet.
“MD (Herba) tried various sexual advances with me but I always stopped it by putting it off to the future are [sic] more intimate knowledge of each other,” she told investigators.
“In effect I was leading him to believe that we would have become more intimate friends when this kidnapping was over,” she said. “On one occasion I remember that I was in the shower and he was watching me and he told me to stay in the shower and said that he couldn’t take it any more and carried out a sex act.”
She was abducted on 11 July and released on the 17th.
The modelling world is riddled with predatory offers in disguise. Modern sex slavery is still thriving. There is urgent need to clamp down on the system that makes covert illegal operations continue to flourish on the deep web or gangs like the Black Death will continue to cause more disappearances and deaths.