Kidnap & Ransom update September 11, 2018
11-Sep-18

AMERICAS

1. (US, 10/09/18) Man pleads guilty of kidnapping and robbery in New York

A man pleaded guilty in the New York Supreme Court to the charges of organizing the kidnapping of a man and the robbery of cryptocurrency. The incident took place in November 2017 after the victim met with the accused, who told him he had hired a car to take him back home. In the said vehicle were the man’s accomplices, who at gunpoint took the victim away and forced him to give away the access code for his digital wallet. The mastermind then proceeded to transfer to his own account approximately USD 1.8 million in cryptocurrency Ether. The victim managed to escape his captors and report the incident to the police. According to police records, the defendant has been linked to a number of previous similar instances, in which he stole over USD 1 billion in cryptocurrency. FULL ARTICLE

2. (CANADA, 10/09/18) Ontario town to pay ransom after cyber-attack

The Ontario town of Midland is preparing to pay a ransom after hackers locked down a portion of its computer system more than a week ago. The payment is to take place in spite of the town having hired IT security experts to deal with the issue. “Although it is not ideal, it is in our best interest to bring the system back online as quickly as possible”, said the statement. Hackers illegally accessed the town’s network on 1 September and infected it with a virus which encrypted a number of systems. The hackers have since been demanding a ransom to hand over the decryption key. The town will not say how much it will pay the hackers, but local media affirmed the demand was made in Bitcoin. Town officials have said the incident will be covered by an insurance and as such, there will be no financial impact to the town. The officials said they are expecting to have the computer systems fully restored this week. Authorities are currently investigating if residents’ privacy or town information was breached. This incident comes just a few months after the municipality of Wasaga Beach paid 3 bitcoins (nearly USD 19,000) to cybercriminals to unlock their servers, which had been locked in a similar cyberattack. FULL ARTICLE (1) (2)

3. (COLOMBIA, 11/09/18) Rancher rescued after kidnapping in la Guajira

Kidnapped rancher Haison José Fuenmayor Escobar, husband of the former secretary of indigenous affairs of La Guajira Yelenca Gutiérrez Fajardo, was released by his captors on 8 September, reportedly following heavy police pressure. Another man who was kidnapped with the rancher was also set free. According to police reports, their kidnappers had demanded a ransom of COP 2 billion (USD 651,000). The hostages were found in a mountainous area of the municipality of Riohacha, where they were kept for seven days. After their release, the victims said they had been mistreated by the kidnappers, who often threatened to kill them. The Colombian authorities affirmed a criminal gang was behind the abduction. FULL ARTICLE (1)

EUROPE

4. (MOLDOVA, 10/09/18) Turkish nationals abducted by Turkish intelligence in Moldova

At least six Turkish nationals, employed in Moldova at a chain of private high schools linked to the Gülenist movement, have reportedly been illegally arrested and taken back to Turkey in an operation carried out by the Turkish intelligence services in alleged complicity with Moldovan authorities. Details remain sketchy, but Moldova’s secret service, the SIS, stated that its anti-terror arm had carried out an “operation” today in “several localities” to “prevent threats to national security”. The Turkish media has confirmed the detentions and various social media accounts have shown evidence of the arrests, allegedly linked to Ankara’s campaign to seize all individuals linked to exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen. Amnesty International confirmed the individuals’ deportation to Turkey and in a press release accused the Moldovan authorities of ignoring their international human rights obligations. Some media sources have speculated Moldovan officials may have received bribes to facilitate the operation. FULL ARTICLE (1)

AFRICA

5. (CAMEROON, 07/09/18) Release of five students after abduction in Bafut

On 7 September, five of the six kids kidnapped from the Bafut Presbyterian College by suspected Anglophone separatists on 3 September, regained their freedom. Their release comes two days after the release of their headmaster and one of their classmates, who had been captured at the same time. The circumstances of the release are not known as the families have shown very hermetic on the issue, concerned about their safety. FULL ARTICLE

6. (NIGERIA, 10/09/18) Family of kidnappers arrested in Lagos

On 7 September, the Lagos State Police Command arrested a family engaged in kidnapping for ransom in the city of Lagos. The gang consisted of a 60-year-old woman, who is a chief priestess at her community, and her two sons, who reportedly used social media to lure out their victims. The trio were arrested after a woman reported the kidnapping of her brother to the police. The woman stated she had been demanded 1.5 million naira for the release of the victim. The police managed to locate the kidnappers’ hideout, where they found the woman’s brother and two other hostages, who said having been in captivity for weeks. One of the victims reported he had been lured from Anambra with the promise of a job placement at an oil company. The other man said he had been lured on a fake relationship. FULL ARTICLE

ASIA

7. (MALAYSIA, 11/09/18) Three Indonesian fishermen kidnapped off Sabah

Three Indonesian fishermen were kidnapped on 11 September by armed men off Semporna, Sabah. The three victims and another person were on their docked fishing vessel when the kidnapping took place, during curfew hours at around 1am. According to reports, the vessel was boarded by at least two masked men carrying M16 rifles. The assailants reportedly spoke Suluk, a dialect used in the Philippines’ Sulu province. The fourth person, who escaped the abduction by hiding in a compartment, reported the incident to the police. The Sabah police have said not having information on any ransom calls related to the incident, although they do not rule out the possibility that the abduction was carried out by a kidnap for ransom group. This is the first kidnapping to take place in Sabah in two years. FULL ARTICLE

8. (INDIA, 11/09/18) Police officer among arrested for abduction of executives

The anti-extortion cell arrested six people, including a Mumbai constable, for the kidnapping of two directors of a credit firm from Rajasthan. According to reports, the victims had been lured by one of the accused, who showed at the victims’ office in Mumbai, pretending to be seeking for a loan. Following that first meeting, the suspect set a second gathering with the victims in Thane, at the property he was alleged to be giving as collateral for the loan. Upon arrival on 7 September, the executives were met by the rest of the gang and held hostage. The kidnappers reportedly demanded a ransom of Rs 1 crore (USD 138,000) from the victims’ employer, who finally agreed on the payment of Rs 25 lakh (USD 34,500). The person sent by the company to pay the ransom wrote down the plates of the car in which the criminals left, giving then the information to the authorities. The police managed to locate the vehicle, rescuing the victims and arresting the six gang members. The ransom was also recovered in full. FULL ARTICLE