The 62 year old entrepreneur and star of Dragon’s Den made the threat after receiving a ransom note over Twitter from a man claiming to be based in Belarus:
“My name is Yuri Vasilyev and I’m looking for a £35,000 investment to stop us hurting your Hollie Bannatyne. We will bring hurt and pain into your life.
“We are watching her. She is very attractive. Want photos?
“Tweet using the hashtag #4money to confirm payment will be made.”
Bannatyne quickly retaliated with an appeal to all his followers: “I offer £25,000 reward for the capture of the coward who calls himself @YuriVasilyev- Double if his arms are broken first.”
However after a backlash he was forced to take the tweet down and instead replaced it with an appeal for any information that could lead to the mystery blackmailer’s arrest. He still offered a handsome reward though, this time to the tune of £30,000.
His 376,000 followers soon got on the case, and found an IP address that traced the blackmailer’s Twitter account to an internet café in Moscow. Bannatyne couldn’t hide his delight and told the blackmailer “My people are getting closer to you every minute, run and hide you little coward in Moscow. Go home to your mum and cry we are closing in on you little boy.”
Duncan has also reported the incident to the police, who are conducting their own investigations: “Durham Constabulary can confirm Duncan Bannatyne has reported a number of threatening messages he had received via email and Twitter in which threats were made against a member of his family… We have been liaising since then with Mr Bannatyne and conducting inquiries into the credibility of these threats”
Bannatyne also released his own personal statement: “My family is well protected but I take any threat to them very seriously and will do all I can to ensure the person or people involved are caught.”
Despite the recent threats, 26 year old Hollie is currently safe and well.