This week, Norwegian authorities released a surveillance video of three men suspected of kidnapping a wealthy executive's wife and demanding a substantial ransom to be paid in cryptocurrency. This case has been unfolding for months outside the public eye while police and the victim's husband negotiated with kidnappers and sought proof of life.
A ransom note contained death threats and a request for nearly $9 million in Monero, a cryptocurrency known for obfuscated transactions. The rise of cryptocurrency has eliminated one of the major impediments to a successful kidnapping: obtaining the ransom. The need to transport and distribute large amounts of cash made kidnapping difficult and served as a cap on ransom amounts. Cryptocurrency, with its anonymous and easily transferable traits, makes kidnapping a far easier crime to successfully pull off.
The video released by police revealed that the suspected kidnappers were lurking outside the victim’s husband's office, obviously conducting surveillance and gathering information. Kidnappers plan their crimes, often with great detail, and their plans are based on personal information they obtain from the Internet or during surveillance.
Takeaways: While the likelihood of kidnapping are rare (unless you travel to high-risk regions), it is always wise to take appropriate steps to reduce your exposure and prepare for emergencies.
Remove personal information from the internet, which requires an ongoing effort. Read the case study about Insite's Personal Information Removal (PIR) service.
Get security awareness training that covers situational awareness, social engineering and travel security.
Contact Insite should you receive any unsolicited or threatening contacts.