1. Despite global economies, the world is a scary place for western business people.
Even small- and mid-sized companies now do business far beyond our borders, which means that their employees can be found almost anywhere. That is not good news when you consider that some of the world's fastest growing economies are also the leaders in extortion and kidnapping. Mexico suffers as many as 500 kidnappings a month, with Russia (and former Soviet countries) coming a close second. In fact, most of Central and South America and large parts of Eastern Europe and Asia have become increasingly dangerous places to work and live.
2. Ransoms are becoming huge.
Not surprisingly, companies do not like to disclose the amount of money they paid for the safe return of employees and their families. What we do know is that demands for values as high as $25 million are now the norm. The Control Risk Group's own numbers demonstrate that most kidnappers will negotiate a lower amount — with an average payout of $1.8 million. The exception is Russia, where kidnappers have remained steadfast to their initial demands.
3. There's big money in kidnapping kids.
It is no surprise that kidnappers have discovered people are willing to pay more money for the safe release of children. It is estimated that up to 80% of kidnap victims are under the age of 18.
4. Internet terrorism is on the rise.
In the Internet age, extortion has become a serious threat to web-based companies. A savvy programmer can bring down a website located anywhere in the world using complicated Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack that renders the site inoperable. They then demand a ransom to stop. These attackers use an army of bots that they use to infect thousands of individual computers, turning them into slaves of the hacker. In many cases there is no way to stop the attack unless you pay the ransom.
5. Most insured victims live.
The good news is that when a kidnapped person has insurance coverage and a professional response, they are likely to survive the ordeal. In most cases, the bad guys want money, and if we can provide them with what they want, everyone stays safe. In fact, only 2% of abducted persons die when expert negotiators are involved — and the majority of these occur at the time of the abduction.