Kidnap & Ransom update May 22, 2018
22-May-18

AMERICAS

1. (CANADA, 18/05/18) ‘Virtual kidnapping’ scam defrauds family of over $200,000
Durham police said they were made aware of a family who paid a large amount in a virtual kidnapping fraud. The incident started when an 18-year-old Montreal student (in some reports described as “international” student) was called by the criminals and told she had been implicated in a crime ring. The scammers, threatening to arrest her if she didn’t follow their instructions, convinced her to take photos of herself tied up and in distress, making it look like she was a kidnapping victim. She was then told to wait in a hotel room. The criminals then sent those images to the student’s mother in Oshawa, Ontario, demanding ransom money through an app called “WECHAT.” More than USD 200,000 was transferred by the woman’s parents and friends to an unknown bank account. Durham police were contacted by the woman’s mother on 16 May to report the kidnapping. Investigators determined that her daughter was still in Montreal, where police found her unharmed, still waiting in the hotel room. A similar incident was recorded in Halifax on 18 May, targeting a Chinese student. The victim was found by the authorities before a ransom was paid to the criminals by her family in China. Another such case was recorded in Victoria on 14 May. FULL ARTICLE (1)

2. (PANAMA, 19/05/18) Seven indicted for kidnapping of Asians
Seven people were charged by the Office of the Prosecutor against Organized Crime for their participation in at least three cases of kidnapping for ransom of people of Asian origin. The first incident took place in October 2016. In the second case, in early 2018, two citizens of Asian origin were kidnaped by some of the accused who posed as businessmen. The victims in this case were released after their relatives paid an undisclosed ransom. The last investigated incident took place in February. The victim in this case was released in April, after his family payed a ransom. FULL ARTICLE

3. (COLOMBIA, 21/05/18) Australian national rescued after one week in captivity
Australian national Dimitrios Mavris was rescued by Colombian authorities from a rural area of the city of Buenaventura, in Valle del Cauca department. The rescue operation was carried out following a tip-off from a person who gave the police the exact location of the victim and the identity of the captors. Two men who were guarding the foreigner managed to flee after detecting the arrival of the anti-kidnapping units. Mavris, owner of a construction company in Sydney, was kidnapped on 15 May on his way to Pereira city, Risalda department, from Bogota. The victim said his vehicle was intercepted by a four armed men who forced him into their van. No more details have been provided. FULL ARTICLE (1)

AFRICA

4. (CAMEROON, 20/05/18) Mayor kidnapped by militants in Southwest region
Ekuh Simon, the mayor of the town of Bangem, Southwest region, was kidnapped on 20 May. In a video shared by his captors, Simon said he and his deputy were kidnapped by separatists for planning independence celebrations when they had boycotted the event. He said he is being held hostage by a group called the Ambazonia Restoration Forces, who believe that national day should not be celebrated. FULL ARTICLE (1)

5. (GUINEA, 20/05/18) Unidentified man kidnapped in Conakry
Only weeks after the discovery of the dead body of El Hadj Abdourahmane Diallo, a businessman kidnapped in December 2017, another citizen was kidnapped on 18 May by unknown assailants. The incident took place at the Matoto Kondeboundji area of the Guinean capital. Four hooded and armed individuals intercepted the victim’s vehicle and at gunpoint forced the man into their van. The identity of the victim has not been ascertained. FULL ARTICLE

6. (GUINEA, 21/05/18) Second kidnapping in two days in Conakry
After the abduction of an unidentified individual on 18 May, a Lebanese businessman was kidnapped in Conakry at midday on 19 May. Mohamed Mattar, an expatriated merchant, was abducted after he was called to a meeting by two men, a Moroccan and a Guinean. At the end of the meeting, which took place at an apartment in Dixxin, the two tied him up before demanding a ransom of USD 100,000 from his relatives. The kidnappers then left the victim tied up inside the apartment and left. The victim shouted for help and was heard by a neighbor, who called the police. The perpetrators have not been arrested yet. FULL ARTICLE

ASIA

7. (THAILAND, 21/05/18) Kidnapped Chinese woman rescued in Bangkok
A Chinese woman, who was abducted by five people after arriving at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport, was found safe on a roadside in Bang Na, Bangkok, 13 days later. Jincai Chen, arrived on a flight from Hong Kong about 9.30pm on 6 May. She was abducted by five people, four Chinese and a Thai, who demanded a ransom of 2 million yuan (USD 313,000) from her husband. On 18 May, the victim’s husband sought help from police, saying he and relatives had paid the ransom but the gang then demanded 1 million yuan more (USD 156,500). From 6 to 18 May, the gang kept the victim at a hotel in Bangkok and then took her to a rented house in Pattaya, to later transfer her to another house on Koh Samed in Rayong province. On 19 May, Chen was returned to Bangkok, kept blindfolded all the way, and set free on the side of Bang Na-Trat Road (Theparat Road) in Bang Na district. The kidnapers have all been identified by the police, who are looking for other possible accomplices. Only the Thai national has been arrested, since the Chinese suspects left the country before the woman was released. FULL ARTICLE

8. (AFGHANISTAN, 21/05/18) 5 TAPI workers killed, 1 abducted in Kandahar
A group of militants killed five workers of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) oil pipeline and kidnapped another in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province on 21 May. The attack occurred at 10 a.m. in Maiwand district when the TAPI workers, including deminers and topographers, were at work. According to provincial authorities, the workers had earlier declined police protection. An operation is said to be underway to rescue the kidnapped deminer. While the local authorities have blamed the attack on the Taliban, no group has so far claimed responsibility. FULL ARTICLE (1)