Kidnap & Ransom update – November 29, 2018
29-Nov-18

AMERICAS

1. (BOLIVIA, 29/11/18) Victim not released after ransom payment

A young man, who was kidnapped 36 days ago, has not been released by his captors, despite his family having paid a ransom of USD 80,000. It is believed the man is being held by a kidnapping gang comprising criminals from Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia. The father said that he initially received a call by a Paraguayan woman, who demanded a ransom of USD 100,000 for the release of his son, to be paid to an account in Paraguay. To pressure the family, the abductors sent them a video of the victim begging his relatives to pay. After realizing that the hostage was not released following the payment, the family reported the incident to the authorities. Members of the Special Force of Fight against Crime (FELCC) have since then arrested one person, believed to be the mastermind of the kidnapping. FULL ARTICLE

EUROPE

2. (UKRAINE, 26/11/18) Kidnappers of crypto-miner arrested in Kiev

On 23 November, the Ukrainian National Police arrested two brothers for kidnapping a man who mined cryptocurrencies, and for stealing from him. According to the press release, the abduction occurred last March in the Podilsky district of the Ukrainian capital, Kiev. Reportedly, the criminals waited for the victim in the vicinity of his apartment and attacked him when he arrived. After taking him to an unknown place, the kidnappers demanded the keys to his apartment, threatening the victim with death. The criminals took more than USD 50,000 in cash from the victim’s home. After that, they released the crypto-miner in the city of Brovary, after which the man reported the incident to the authorities. FULL ARTICLE

3. (UK, 28/11/18) UK IT directors would pay cyber-ransom

According to research by UK-based IT security company Sophos, 47% of UK IT directors would ‘definitely’ be willing to pay a ransom rather than report a breach to the authorities. Sophos assessed this is related to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) taking effect. The reason being that many businesses believe that by reporting incidents to the authorities they could actually end up paying more in penalties than they would to hackers. Sophos found that small businesses were least likely to consider paying a ransom. The study also surveyed IT directors in European countries such as Belgium, France, Ireland, and the Netherlands, who were found to be less likely to concede to hackers’ demands than their UK counterparts. FULL ARTICLE

MIDDLE EAST

4. (UAE, 27/11/18) Arab man prosecuted for attempting to kidnap Filipina in Dubai
An Arab man was jailed for six months and will be deported after serving his sentence for attempting to kidnap a Filipino woman in Dubai. The Filipina was waiting for her friend in the Al Rashidiya area when she was approached by the defendant who introduced himself as a police officer and told her to follow him. When the woman resisted, the man attempted to drag her into his car while repeatedly claiming he was a police officer. As the act started to attract too much attention from bystanders, he let the woman go. He nonetheless waited for her not far from there and again tried to force her into the vehicle. When another bystander witnessed the commotion, the man sped away, but not before the victim managed to photograph his car’s registration number. The offender denied the charges. The report did not mention additional details, including the offender’s nationality or the aim if the kidnapping. FULL ARTICLE

5. (SYRIA, 28/11/18) Kidnap victim allegedly released without ransom payment

The intelligence unit of the Suwaida police on 28 November announced the release of kidnap victim Zaidoun al-‘Uudi. However, local residents have expressed being sceptical of the reports, suggesting a ransom was actually paid by the hostage’s family and that local authorities may have been implicated. Meanwhile, the victim’s relatives have refused to comment on the incident. Al-’Uudi was kidnapped from a shop in the village of Umm al-Rumman on 23 November. According to local media, as many as 40 kidnappings are being reported per month in the region. FULL ARTICLE

AFRICA

6. (KENYA, 28/11/18) Kidnapped Italian aid worker alive, says Italy

The Italian aid worker who was abducted by gunmen in Kilifi, Kenya, is still alive, according to Italy’s government. The kidnappers are reportedly holding Silvia Romano with the intention of demanding a ransom. Reports from Italian media indicate there could be an ongoing secret negotiation initiated by the government of Italy. On 26 November, Italian public broadcaster Rai TV showed pictures of the crime scene and said the authorities’ concern is that Romano could be sold to al-Shabaab militants in Somalia. Unconfirmed reports also indicate that Italy’s Special Forces are involved in the search for Romano. Currently, a security operation is ongoing in Tana River and Lamu counties as police believe the kidnappers intended to cross over to Somalia through the Boni forest. FULL ARTICLE

ASIA

7. (AFGHANISTAN, 27/11/18) Militants abduct 25 commuters in Balkh

On 27 November, armed men stopped two mini-buses in the Zari district of Balkh province and kidnapped 25 commuters, taking them to unknown locations. District police said that before kidnapping the travellers, the militants separated the women from the group and let them go. Local authorities blamed Taliban militants for the kidnapping. It is not yet clear what the aim of the abduction is. FULL ARTICLE