United Kingdom model 'kidnapped in Milan in bid to auction her off online'

Italian police have released a mugshot of a 30-year-old Polish man who they say has been arrested over the abduction of a British model in Italy last month.

Police said the woman had come to Milan for a photo shoot, apparently a fake setup, and was abducted on 11 July.

A spokesperson for the Foreign Office confirmed they are "providing consular support to a British woman in Italy and are in touch with local authorities".

The kidnapper was captured by police while he was accompanying the model to the British Consulate in Milan.

Detectives are unclear as to whether Herba was serious about auctioning his victim or if it was simply a threat meant to extort 300,000 euros in Bitcoin from the model's agent and family.

The woman was drugged, handcuffed and loaded into a bag and put into the boot of vehicle which was driven to an isolated house in Borgial, northwest of Turin.

The woman was kept handcuffed to furniture but was freed and taken to the British embassy in Milan, despite the ransom not being paid.

Police said no one took part in auction and it was unclear if Herba was serious about the plan or whether he was a "fantasist".

He said he was working for The Black Death Group.

According to The Sun, the captor threatened to kill the woman if she told police what had happened.

Prosecutors described the kidnapping as a "very well-organised seizure" and added he was contacted over the internet two days later with requests to "buy" her for sexual purposes.

The kidnappers then started blackmailing her modelling agency, demanding USD$300,000 (A$377,000) in ransom, Italian authorities said.

They also traced his mobile phone and tracked down a taxi driver who gave him a lift and were able to lie in wait at the Consulate for him. He later moved the model to a farmhouse close to Turin, some 120 miles away, where she was held captive for six days.

  • Joey Payne