Kidnap & Ransom update May 13, 2018
13-May-18

AMERICAS

1. (DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, 10/05/18) Businessman kidnapped, large ransom demanded
A businessman of the Dominican city of Santiago de los Caballeros was kidnapped on 9 April by several men, who have reportedly demanded a large ransom between DOP245 million (almost USD5 million) and DOP300 million (over USD6 million). Some local sources affirm the kidnappers had originally demanded USD 200,000 but later increased the ransom. The kidnapped businessman was identified as Epifanio Fernando Arias, who owns a shopping plaza in the city of Santiago. No more details have been released as the Dominican authorities are handling the case with great secrecy. FULL ARTICLE (1) (2)

2. (ARGENTINA, 10/05/18) “Ransom” paid in virtual kidnapping scam in Buenos Aires
A family in the locality of Rio Tala, province of Buenos Aires, paid ARS18,000 (USD 782) to criminals who said they had kidnapped one of their members. The incident took place on 8 May, when a woman received a call from a man who initially said there had been a traffic accident on Route 9 and that family members were involved. After this, a crying female took over the phone and identified herself as the woman’s mother-in-law. The man then took back control of the call and said it was actually a kidnapping and demanded the ARS 18,000 ransom, threatening to kill the kidnapped victim. The woman then made the deposit through a rapid payment system at a shop, to a person in the city of Cordoba. After confirming the payment, the kidnappers told the woman that her family member would be released in an hour at a location in the city of San Pedro. The woman then went to the location at the stipulated time but nobody showed up. After some time, the family was able to locate the alleged kidnapped person, who confirmed she was not kidnapped. FULL ARTICLE

3. (CANADA, 11/05/18) Two Chinese students victims of virtual kidnapping in Vancouver
Vancouver police are warning foreign students against virtual kidnapping schemes after two Chinese students were targeted this weekend by criminals who convinced them to send a hostage video to their families to extort them. The local police confirmed money was obtained by the perpetrators, but would not specify the “substantial” amount in these two ongoing investigations. According to the Vancouver police, criminals in these scams pose as members of the Chinese consulate and tell victims there is a warrant for their arrest in China, or that the Chinese police need their help with an investigation. The suspects eventually convince the victim to make fake videos indicating they have been kidnapped or are the victim of another crime. The videos are sent to the victim’s family members, who are then extorted for money. Meanwhile, the victim is told to go to a motel or a short-term rental where they can’t be reached. Victims are also convinced to switch off or destroy their phones, and avoid social networks. Targeted people are threatened and warned not to contact the police. According to police records, in Vancouver, 20 such crimes were reported in 2017 and two in 2018. Three of those cases resulted in cash transfers. The police believe the suspects are likely operating from China. These cases follow warnings issued in Ontario for similar cases. FULL ARTICLE (1)

AFRICA

4. (DRC, 11/05/18) Two British tourists kidnapped from Gorilla sanctuary
Two British tourists have been kidnapped alongside their local driver in an ambush at a popular DRC national park. A park ranger was also killed in the attack. The incident took place on 11 May at the Virunga National Park, located between Kilimanyoka and Kibumba, in Nyiragongo territory of North Kivu province. According to a park official, the captors are demanding a ransom of USD 200,000 for the release of the kidnapped victims. The attackers remain unidentified, however, a security source in Goma said there were suspicions that the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a group operating south of the park, could be behind Friday’s kidnapping. Other groups mentioned as possible perpetrators are the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a Ugandan Islamist outfit that has carried out kidnappings in the past and who are known to operate in the northern areas of the park; and the Mai Mai, a pro government militia accused of being behind other attacks in the area, particularly in central areas. The source also warned the culprits could even be Congolese soldiers. The park has been the scenario of a number of similar attacks. Just last month, on 9 April, five Virunga rangers and a driver were killed during an ambush in the Central Sector of the Park. The incident, attributed to the Mai Mai militias, has been the deadliest attack against park staff and brought the number of rangers killed in the park up to 175 in 20 years. FULL ARTICLE (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6)

5. (SOUTH AFRICA, 11/05/18) Five arrested for kidnapping of Dundee teenager
Five out of seven suspects are expected to appear in court on 14 May in connection with the kidnapping of the son of a prominent Dundee businesswoman. The kidnappers were arrested in Cape Town on 9 May. The 15-year-old boy was kidnapped on 5 May and released after two days. Two of the kidnappers were employees at the family’s maintenance business. Another was a disgruntled ex-employee who had been fired over theft allegations. The boy was said to have been treated well, since he was an acquaintance of the kidnappers. Sources close to the investigation said the boy was lured by one of the suspects, who invited him to see a new car he had just bought. The kidnappers kept the boy in Ladysmith, while making the ransom calls from Cape Town. The criminals initially demanded R1million (USD 81,000), but soon decrease the demand to demand R25000 (USD 2,000). Reportedly, the family finally paid R20,000 (USD 1,700). After the payment, the kidnappers left the safe house, leaving it open for the victim to escape. A local private security company involved in the case said kidnappings for ransom where wealthy families are targeted are on the rise in South Africa. FULL ARTICLE

AUSTRALIA

6. (AUSTRALIA, 13/05/18) Gold Coast boy kidnapped for ransom
A 12-year-old Gold Coast boy was kidnapped for ransom on his way home from school in Mudgeeraba, Queensland on 11 May. The Chinese boy was reportedly abducted to settle a 20 million Chinese yuan (over USD 3 million) gambling debt accumulated by his father. The boy was found by the authorities in northern New South Wales about 12.30pm on 12 May. A 53-year-old Chinese man known to the family was arrested and will be charged with kidnapping for ransom. The identification of the suspect was facilitated by his numerous previous demands for payment in the lead up to the abduction. FULL ARTICLE (1)