Italian police confirmed they’re looking for at least one other man following the arrest of Polish-born Brit Lukasz Herba, one of the alleged masterminds behind Chloe Ayling’s dramatic abduction.
Miss Ayling told Italian police that her agent had booked her a photo shoot in Milan on July 11.
Ayling, 20, but instead was drugged and kidnapped for six days.
She said Herba, 30 — a member of a shady underground syndicate called “Black Death” — told her she was going to be auctioned off on the dark web.
Cops detained the British-based Pole in Milan and found a Black Death leaflet – which features black plague doctors from the 1300s – alongside a note to the victim explaining why she was being released.
The note called her kidnapping a “mistake” because she was a mother of a two-year-old and said “our main and very well respected men” argued for her release.
The woman told police she was attacked by two men who reportedly demanded £270,000 in Bitcoins to free her – a fee which was later negotiated down to £50,000 by the terrified model’s agent.
Herba was arrested July 18 after his auction plan went awry, as he was taking Ayling to the British consulate in Milan. He appeared in court last Friday, when detectives sought to keep him incarcerated as they continue to investigate his claimed affiliation with a notorious trafficking ring called the Black Death Group that Interpol investigated in 2015.
Italian prosecutors are working to figure out whether the threat of the online auction was used as an extortion attempt for $300,000 in ransom money for Ayling’s return. They’re also trying to determine whether the Black Death group actually exists.
Herba also reportedly told Ayling that he had made €15 million ($17.7 million) sex-trafficking kidnapped women and selling them via the deep web on the Black Death Group website, which its developers move frequently and which can only be found and accessed through a special encrypted invitation with a URL.
The Black Death, which is believed to operate in Eastern Europe, dates back to 1994 and is said to offer services including “assassinations, bombings and arms dealing.”
The Sunday Mirror has uncovered the British model’s Dark Web “advert” which features a disturbing image of her dressed in just a velvet body suit, looking dazed and lying on the floor with her left breast exposed.
Her captors had even placed a calling card on her stomach.
The ad by Black Death Group – which refers to victims as “merchandise” – also features a series of horrifying promises about the women they traffic and a list of the woman’s personal details – including her dimensions.
Black Death – which operates using the Bitcoin currency – boast they can “kidnap a specific target for your needs” and assure free “EU delivery” of victims.
The dark web is a section of the internet where people can contact one another anonymously and without fear of being monitored.
Google doesn’t work and where passwords are replaced by encrypted invitations. It can only be accessed through anonymizer browsers like Tor Project, which hide IP addresses so web surfers with malicious intent cannot be traced. It is known as the deep web or darknet: a place where college students buy hard drugs to be delivered to their dorms, where arms are sold to terrorists, and where street children are sold for snuff films.
Because of this many criminals use it to sell illegal drugs, chemicals, weapons, child porn and even offer assassination services. Silk Road – the most notorious dark net online market – was closed down by the FBI in 2013.
Its founder Ross Ulbricht was convicted of seven charges including drug trafficking, criminal enterprise, aiding and abetting the distribution of drugs over the internet, computer hacking and money laundering. He was sentenced to life.
one post from the internets
Human trafficking is an oft-quoted myth of the dark web, but one that is rarely backed up with evidence. For a brief few moments, I managed to grab the attention of someone who actually claimed to be selling people on this part of the internet—whether they really were or not.
“We don’t invite strangers to auctions,” Black Death told me in one email. “We don’t want popularity. No Europol. No people just looking around. No journalists or bloggers.”
“Just serious business.