It is often referred to as the quiet terror, and it is a multi-billion dollar a year business that spans the globe. The kidnap & ransom business is so vast and enterprising that those who study it in depth have come to understand that it operates like any other financial market, with risks, rewards and even economic slowdowns. While this topic may conjure up images of ransom notes, armed men, and victims with hoods over their heads, the reality is far more bizarre. And all of it is problematic and dangerous.
Those who are suddenly thrust into these nightmares have to understand from the outset that the kidnap & ransom business is just that—a business, and it requires professionals to navigate its murky waters. It is also a business that is increasing every year; kidnap & ransom cases are up over 30% globally since 2013. For the American citizen abroad, it is a significant risk. Annually, about two-dozen kidnappings of Americans over-seas are reported, but the U.S. State Department has routinely recognized that 60% to 70% of American kidnappings go unreported. This is in part because one quickly finds out that there is not really anything the American Embassies can do about it, and more often than not, it’s someone from those Embassies who give a distraught family the business card of a private professional negotiator.
While there mere idea of K&R forces one to think of dangerous places far from the United States, such is not always the case. Since the turn of the 21st century, there has been a rise in kidnappings here in America, something that had largely become extinct after kidnapping for ransom became a federal crime in 1932. By 2010 the U.S. was ranked sixth in the world for K&R, after countries like Columbia, Italy, Lebanon, Peru and the Philippines.
For the families and the individuals who suddenly go from doing business with the corporate world to the criminal underworld, nothing is simple, easy, nor safe. It’s also not something you want to go through alone.