Kidnapping: Saudi Arabia urges citizens not to travel to Lebanon


September 16, 2013

Source: The Daily Star

BEIRUT: Saudi Arabia has warned its citizens against travel to Lebanon, reported the Saudi national news agency (SPA) Thursday. “The Foreign Ministry calls on all citizens not to travel to Lebanon for their own safety due to the current situation in the region,” SPA said.

Ali Awad Asiri

Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Awad Asiri speaks during a press conference in Rabieh, Tuesday, July 2, 2013. (The Daily Star/Charbel Nakhoul, HO)

 

The Ministry also called on citizens living in or visiting Lebanon to contact the Saudi embassy in Beirut to provide them with the necessary assistance.

Last week, the U.S. urged its non-emergency staff and their family members to leave Lebanon, citing security concerns.

That announcement came after U.S. President Barack Obama said he would seek congressional approval for a military strike against the regime in Lebanon’s neighbor Syria. But Obama Tuesday urged Congress to put off the vote, vowing to explore a diplomatic plan from Russia to take away Syria’s chemical arms.

Lebanon has vowed to protect embassies in the country.

Caretaker Interior Minister Marwan Charbel said Wednesday that Lebanon regards as important the security of foreign embassies.

Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Lebanon Ali Asiri has recently said that his country has put in place a contingency plan for the evacuation of its nationals in Lebanon.

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ABP World Group – updated contact information


July 7 , 2013

ABP World Group can now be contacted Toll-Free in the U.S, U.K and Norway.

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Making it more convenient and affordable to contact us at anytime. 

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24/7 Emergency Number: 0047 40466526

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Kidnappings in the Philippines: “Run and we will kill you – Warren Rodwell`s Story


June 17 , 2013

Source: KRmagazine

At 6pm on December 5, 2011, 55-year-old Warren Rodwell, who was building a house on the Zamboanga Peninsula in the Philippines, had downed tools for the day when four gunmen ambushed him

Warren Rodwell on his kidnapping in Philippines

“RUN and we will kill you.”

When Australian adventurer Warren Rodwell heard those words, he knew he was not simply under arrest.

Warren-Rodwell

It was 6pm on December 5, 2011. The 55-year-old, who was building a house on the Zamboanga Peninsula in the Philippines, had downed tools for the day when four gunmen ambushed him

“I’d been on the phone and was just on the outside of the house in an enclosed area. Two guys came around one way pointing rifles at me and shot me in the hand. The other two came around from behind and handcuffed me,” he said.

“When he shot me I swore at him, then he said ‘police’ and pulled out a pair of handcuffs. It all happened too quickly.

“We had to walk two or three kilometres through rice fields. They were behind me trying to hit me with the butt of the rifle and kick me to move me. The guy said ‘run and we will kill you’.

“I was in front and by the time we eventually got to a river and into a boat, I realised I was being kidnapped.”

The gunmen wore military uniforms and their M16 rifles were plastered with police insignia.

The former Australian soldier knew to stay calm and do as he was told when they forced him into a stolen community boat. A similar vessel would carry him to freedom 15 months later.

THE PHILLIPINES

Sydney-born Rodwell lived a nomadic lifestyle. He had trotted the globe twice and seen about 50 countries when he decided to settle in one of the most dangerous parts of the world and marry Miraflor Gutang, 26 years his junior.

“I was looking at early retirement in the Philippines because it was halfway between China, where I’d been teaching for about 10 years, and Australia,” he said.

“I didn’t have a great deal of money but I’d saved some and this was one place that I could buy a bit of cheap land, put a house on it and it’d serve the purpose for my Filipino wife.”

His plan was for the couple to eventually split their time between the three countries, but by late November 2011 it began to unravel.

He separated from Ms Gutang and she moved back in with her parents. He continued working on their house, in what he said was considered a ‘safe area’.

Two weeks later, he was kidnapped.

bullet wounds

STAYING ALIVE

Within hours Rodwell realised the rebels who kidnapped him were untrained. After an hour on the boat one of the motors caught on fire and exploded.

“They were kicking the boards that were on fire on to me. Then they were throwing the diesel overboard. As soon as the first guy went overboard so did I. I was in the sea handcuffed. I thought I would drown,” he said.

He was pulled back on to the boat, which his captors then paddled for five hours to an island. It was then apparent they were lost.

“They moored the boat in behind a great big naval ship. The next day the army was there with their military helicopters so we had to hide from them for fear of being shot. Then they took me on an eight-hour boat trip that night. I had to change boats, then the smaller boat hit a rock and it looked like we were going to drown in this raging sea. It was like a movie.”

Filipino police have identified the al-Qaida linked group Abu Sayyaf as being involved in Rodwell’s kidnapping.

For the first three months in the jungle, he thought they were going to kill him.

“I very much so (thought I would die) from having my head cut off. I was going to go crazy thinking about it. I thought the best thing is, just accept it,” he said.

“A couple of times people would cock their weapon and threaten to shoot me and I’d just say ‘Go ahead you f…g idiot … I’m worth 10 million Philippine pesos ($AUD250,000) and you’re worth none so go ahead and shoot’.”

But Rodwell was not the only one who was nervous.

“We got caught at times on the mountains and below us would be civilians coming for water and above us would be the military patrols,” he said.

“The fear was that if the military found our camp, they’d just start shooting. They wouldn’t be looking for me. They’d just shoot anyone they could see.

“Sometimes there were civilians around because they’d come in to do illegal logging or we’d be near a mosque or school. Whenever our presence was found we’d move on. They couldn’t trust anyone because if there was another rebel group they’d try to steal me.”

As his life descended into disaster, Rodwell fought to control his mind by thinking about history, dates and numbers.

“That was the hardest thing of all,” he said. “I had no books or notepads but sometimes the newspaper would be brought in and I’d have my photo taken with it for proof of the date and I’d keep it. I didn’t have any reading glasses but I’d still read the whole newspaper.”

Despite his military experience as a field engineer in the 70s and his acquired survival skills, he never tried to escape.

“I had opportunities but you wouldn’t even call it an escape because there was nowhere I could go,” he said.

“Even if I did get away, the area is all controlled by Abu Sayyaf. That would be like jumping out of the frying pan. It wouldn’t be a smart move at all.”

CAPTIVITY

For the next 15 months Rodwell fought to stay sane amid the constant threat of being shot or beheaded.

He was moved between 30 different locations within the Basilan Islands as his captors tried to evade the military and other militant groups.

Most of the time he was cold and starving. At about 7pm each day, he would climb into his hammock with a roaring stomach.

But he ate as often as his captors. On a good day he was fed boiled rice but at times he went up to six weeks without proper food.

“A treat might have been a can of sardines shared with three or four others,” he said.

“Sometimes it might be one small piece of dried fish. If they added anything to the rice it was one thing only. Sometimes they’d add a shrimp or small prawn but it was pretty meagre.

“At times what I would do to flavour the boiled rice is I would use the conjunctivitis from my eyes because I don’t get much nourishment or taste out of boiled rice. When it goes two or three days of boiled rice only, that’s a lack of oxygen getting to my brain and I start getting headaches and disoriented.

“Some of the messengers that would come in were sympathetic towards me and they would smuggle in bananas and things like that.”

His captors also caught wild birds and cooked tree roots.

There was no sanitary and Rodwell went months without washing.

“I had a wash every three or four months with a bit of water out of a bottle,” he said.

“I did acquire a razor and I’d shave all of the hair off my body for cleanliness. That was a way to keep my body clean. It’s an old military trick. Then I wouldn’t get lice or anything.

“Going to the toilet was a problem with the broken hand. The guy would pour water down my back like you would with a baby.”

He spent about 10 weeks in the mountains and the rest of the time in mangrove swamps.

“At the beginning all I had was a pair of shorts but I acquired and stole some clothes. I’d use whatever I could. One sleeping bag was broken so I tore that and wrapped that around me,” he said.

“When I got transferred in boats they’d sometimes put a blanket around me so I’d steal that. I did end up eventually having a balaclava and then a Filipino army shirt.

“The big problem for most of the time was mosquitos. In the jungle swamps we’d be attacked quite ferociously.”

Warren-Rodwell-2

CAPTORS

Rodwell’s captors, who spoke no English, were child-like.

“The reason I was treated badly was because they don’t know how to look after themselves,” he said.

“Most of my captors were pretty good-hearted souls but being Muslims they’re not restricted by the 10 commandments. They just see it as anyone who’s foreign as having a market.

“This whole thing is a cottage industry. They’re all second and third generation. I only met one or two people who were jungle fighters. The rest were civilians, around 19-20 years old.”

During his time in captivity, Rodwell was guarded by about 100 different rebels.

Within weeks of his capture, his kidnappers began to soften and signs of Stockholm syndrome set in.

“I bonded enough with my guards that on December 31 they took the handcuffs off and gave me something to shave with,” he said.

“It was a bit scary. The only mirror I had was the handcuffs to look at and I could see all this grey hair appearing on my face.

“I had so many changes of guard that I’d recognise the behaviours in them. The married guy would be in tears because he’d miss his family. A couple of them went crazy.

“With others we’d listen to the noises in our stomach from hunger.”

RELEASE

When a ransom of $94,600 was paid on February 3 this year the captors kept their hostage.

“The delay was that between the different levels (of the group) some people were trying to do a side deal on their own,” he said.

“Apparently it was at the insistence of the vice governor that they must release me otherwise he wouldn’t help them in the future with any cases.”

Rodwell had been told on a number of occasions throughout the 15-month ordeal that he would soon be released.

“I believed no one. I didn’t build up hope. I became emotionless,” he said.

“I started suffering PTSD during the captivity and I started healing myself by analysing the situations a lot.”

Throughout, his militant captors released a series of “proof of life’’ videos as part of their ransom demands.

When the “proof of life” questions increased in frequency, he knew something was afoot.

“They were sending questions through every month instead of every two or three months. I also knew something was happening because I’d been moved very close to a fishing village,” he said.

“It was just a gut feeling and it was that weekend that I actually got released.”

As the tide went out on March 22 and darkness fell, Rodwell was put on a boat. After about two hours at sea, he was transferred to a smaller fishing boat and taken to shore.

“The fisherman paddled it to shore and told me to get out. I was told to start walking and say ‘please help me, please help me’.”

He was spotted by Pagadian wharf workers in the early hours of the next morning and taken to the local police station. It was now March 23 – his dead mother’s birthday.

He was then transported to the US military base at Zamboanga for treatment before being flown Manila to recuperate.

During this time he decided against a reunion with his Filipino wife.

“I wasn’t ready to talk to anyone because I know that when she does talk to me, sometimes it ends up being a heated debate trying to understand and communicate,” he said.

“When I’m dealing with the police and we’re doing interviews about the ordeal, I haven’t really got time for someone (breaking down on me). That’d be like being attacked by a wild animal in the dark.

“I also delayed speaking to my children and siblings for a few days because I wasn’t ready.”

Rodwell said he did not believe his estranged wife was involved in his abduction.

“These Filipinos just love to talk. It’s quite possible that with Miraflor, being a bit loose-lipped, that might have helped with the information being disseminated about me being a foreigner and where I was living. It’s just a lack of prudence but these things happen.”

RECOVERY

It has been 18 months since Rodwell was shot and his hand still hasn’t been operated on.

“I’m waiting to go on a waiting list,” he said. “I’ve already been rejected from one waiting list at the Royal Brisbane Hospital because it’s too long and I’m waiting to hear back from QEII hospital.”

He has been diagnosed with PTSD, has damaged nerve tracts in his lower legs and feet and chipped teeth from trying to open coconuts.

But amazingly, he says he is recovering well.

“I’m seeing a private psychologist. Everything is good. I don’t have nightmares. I’ve pulled up pretty well,” he said.

“At the moment I’m still alive and all things considered I’m quite functional.

“I don’t need to see the psychologist for another three months.”

Read about ABP World Group`s CAC – Conduct After Capture Course 

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Egypt – Kidnapping damages reputation of Sinai tribes: Bedouin spokesperson


May 22, 2013

Source: ahramonline.org

Tribal coalition in Sinai Peninsula is working with Egyptian authorities to discover whereabouts of seven security personnel kidnapped last week.
Rafah
File photograph, the Rafah border terminal between Egypt and Gaza, and the only gateway for Gaza’s people, is closed and guarded by Egyptian border guards in Rafah, Egypt. (Photo: AP)
A spokesperson for Bedouin tribes in the Sinai Peninsula has denied knowing the location of seven Egyptian security personnel kidnapped in the region on Thursday.

Speaking on Beytna El-Kebir on state television on Saturday, Coalition of Arab Tribes spokesperson Moussa El-Lahawi said the incident “hurts the reputation of the tribes.”

El-Lawahi added that he was in constant communication with the security services and was helping them search for the kidnapped men.

On Thursday, seven Egyptian security personnel – a member of the armed forces, four port security officers, and two state security officers – were kidnapped by unknown assailants in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

It is not the first time since Egypt’s revolution in 2011 that confrontations have taken place between security forces and tribesmen.

Some Sinai residents seek revenge against the security forces for their heavy-handed policies under Mubarak-era interior minister Habib El-Adly, who many accuse of failing to respect human rights and tribal traditions.

Sinai_Risk_Tribes

Mohamed El-Asati, a member of Sinai’s Aleiqat tribe, told Ahram Online on Thursday that interior ministry policies had left a painful legacy among local tribesmen, especially under the current Muslim Brotherhood-led government.

El-Asati added, “The security apparatus do not respect tribal traditions or customs,” he said. “We have always been regarded as shepherds, drug traffickers or spies for Israel. So after the revolution, you find psychological reasons for [tribesmen’s] desires for vengeance.”

“We paid a heavy price in terms of our security and dignity in the Mubarak era … We will not allow the interior ministry’s old brutal policies to return during the era of Muslim Brotherhood rule,” he asserted.

Militants allegedly belonging to Tawhid wal-Jihad (Monotheism and Jihad) were convicted of killing five security officers and one civilian during attacks in June/July 2011 on an Al-Arish city police station and a North Sinai branch of the Bank of Alexandria. Twenty-five individuals were charged over the attacks.

A security source, who asked not to be named, stated on Thursday that the kidnappers had accused Egyptian security forces of torturing one of the detained men.

In response to the kidnapping, Egyptian policemen closed the entrance and exit gates to the port of Rafah. The protest entered its third day on Sunday.

 

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Risk Management – Kidnapping Gangs Shift from Venezuela-Colombia Border


May 21, 2013

Source: insightcrime.org

Binational kidnapping gangs made up of Colombians and Venezuelans are spreading from the border states into central Venezuela, fuelling a trend that has seen Venezuela overtake Colombia as a kidnapping hotspot.

FARC-Gerilja_Colombia

Over the course of a week,Venezuelan courts sentencedseven Colombians and one Venezuelan to prison for kidnapping in the central state of Yaracuy, while an alleged kidnapping gang consisting of four Venezuelans and one Colombian was broken up in the border state of Tachira.

According to police sources cited by El Nacional, the cases are part of a trend that in recent months has seen Colombian and Venezuelan kidnappers working together both in western and central Venezuela. According to the newspaper, there have also been reports of binational gangs in the Capital District and the states of Merida and Zulia, near the border.

InSight Crime Analysis

Over the last decade, Venezuela and Colombia have been on opposite trajectories when it comes to kidnapping. In 2012, Colombia recorded 85 percent less kidnappings than in 2002, when the country was renowned as the world’s kidnapping capital. In contrast, kidnapping in Venezuela rose by an estimated 430 percent between 1999 and 2011 (although statistics from Venezuelan should be approached cautiously, as a lack of trust in official figures has led to organizations using estimates rather than the officially reported numbers). In 2012, there were 1,970 kidnappings in Venezuela, according to a study by criminologist Fermin Marmol Garcia, compared to 305 in Colombia.

The Venezuela-Colombia border is a hive for criminal activity, much of it fuelled by the cross-border operations of narco-paramilitary groups such as the Rastrojos. Colombian guerrilla groups like the FARC and the ELN are know to conduct kidnapping operations in Colombian border states like Arauca, then move their victims into Venezuela, where the ransom is then collected. The general atmosphere of lawlessness in this border region has almost certainly contributed to the growth of binational kidnapping rings, including those which are now reportedly moving away from the frontier states and more deeply into Venezuelan territory.

Note:

For the CAC course (Conduct after Capture) contact ABP World Group. The objective of this course is to better prepare civilians for a kidnap/hostage situation and improve their chances of getting home alive.

 

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Companies Overlooking Most Crucial Part of Kidnap & Ransom Insurance


May 21, 2013

Source: Sacbee

Full protection comes from choosing an experienced crisis response firm with specific skills, says Lockton Report.

KANSAS CITY, Mo., May 16, 2013 — /PRNewswire/ — The ransom and extortion industry is lucrative and the danger zone has expanded well beyond Central and South America, yet companies tend to downplay the importance of a Kidnap & Ransom insurance policy.

Kidnap-Ransom

Too often, companies complete an insurance application, choose the lowest price, and file it away without giving much thought to the decision that can make all the difference on the safety of their staff. A new report by Lockton explains how to choose a crisis response firm so that K&R insurance offers not only protection, but also preparedness in the event of a kidnapping.

The report, authored by Lockton’s Michal Gnatek and entitled Out the Shadows: Selecting Your Kidnap & Ransom Partners,” identifies ransom and extortion industry trends and danger zones. Gnatek then reviews a process for securing K&R coverage and vetting crisis response teams to ensure a comprehensive insurance program.

“We recommend that insureds focus on the back room: the crisis response firm that will be on the other end of the phone when the need arises,” Gnatek said. “They should have extensive language capabilities and a good history of successful negotiations, among other things.”

After choosing a crisis response team, Lockton recommends companies work with their insurance broker to select the insurer who can meet their needs. There are many factors to consider, including the relationship between the insurer and the chosen crisis response firm. An experienced insurance professional can provide guidance throughout the process.

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Ireland – RIRA gang kidnap then shoot man


May 21, 2013

Source: Irish Herald

THE Real IRA abducted and shot a man in a brutal punishment attack in Dublin.

THE Real IRA abducted and shot a man in a brutal punishment attack in Dublin.

Ronan Connolly (28) was kidnapped at gunpoint by a gang and then bundled into a van.

When he attempted to escape, his captors opened fire. Sources say the incident was a “punishment beating” which spiralled out of control.

Connolly is the younger brother of a leading RIRA member who is behind bars facing murder charges. Detectives in the capital are now on high alert after the incident in Inchicore on Tuesday night.

RIRA-The-Real-IRA

Panicked

Connolly escaped serious injury when his captors apparently panicked and fled.

The abduction is linked to a campaign by dissident terrorists who are targeting former associates as part of a “clean-up” of the illegal organisation. “This incident falls very much into the narrative of the so-called revamp of the Real IRA,” a senior source explained.

“They are carrying out kidnappings, beatings and shootings in an attempt to get rid of those who they no longer trust.”

Connolly, who has numerous convictions and is from Bluebell, Dublin, was abducted in Inchicore at around 10.30pm on Tuesday. The gang tied his hands together with wire and brought him around 12km to the Slade Road in Saggart.

After attempting to escape, Connolly was shot. The gang then fled the scene, allowing Connolly to raise the alarm. Paramedics arrived on the scene and he was treated for gunshot wounds to his hand. Sources say the abduction of Ronan Connolly was orchestrated to send a firm message to his older brother, Sean.

Real-Irish-Republican-Army-RIRA

The 34-year-old is the chief suspect in the murder of gang boss Eamon Kelly, who was gunned down near his home on Furry Park Road, Killester, in December. He is being held in Portlaoise Prison awaiting trial.

Sean Connolly attempted to take control of the Real IRA in Dublin following the death of notorious gangster Alan Ryan last October. However, his attempt to rise to the top of the organisation alarmed senior figures in the North.

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The Danger Of Wealth – Organised Criminal Organisations Target Rich People


January 23m 2016

Source: fa-mag

Facing the end of his athletic career, a famous sports figure decided to try his hand at movies. He had a good shot at some lead roles and everything seemed to be going his way-but his personal life.

A security firm he’d hired found out his girlfriend was not all she claimed to be. She’d been a prostitute, had a substance abuse problem, and those were just the issues they knew about. Feeling he wasn’t in love with her, the actor decided to sever ties.

beaten-woman

But his girlfriend wasn’t going to go that easy. She warned him that if he dumped her, she’d run to the tabloids claiming he was drunk and abusive. The fact that it wasn’t true was irrelevant. He saw his promising movie career being jeopardized. He decided to offer her a monetary settlement. He and his attorney invited the woman to lunch in a public place, with his security detail in tow.

The attorney offered the woman $500,000 to $1 million if she would sign a cease-and-desist contract and walk away. She suddenly stood up, refused the offer, became irate and started to leave. As the attorney tried to calm her, she grabbed a steak knife and lunged at her ex-boyfriend, slashing the knife in the air near his face.

The attorney intervened and was slashed across the arm before the security detail could grab her. She was booked for assault with a deadly weapon. She eventually agreed to a settlement and the actor dropped the charges.

“The attorney earned his keep. And so did we. But it’s an example of how things can really get out of hand,” says Alon Stivi, whose firm, Direct Measures International, provided the sports star’s security.

Stivi, who counts Warren Buffett among his former clients, says he’s dealt with wealthy individuals for almost 20 years, and the biggest challenge for them is knowing whom to trust.

“Us regular people don’t have to worry about that. But once you become ultra-wealthy, especially if you made a fortune or got an inheritance or you invented something, people come out of the woodwork pretending to be your long lost friend, and it can become a serious problem,” Stivi says.

GoldDigger1

The wealthy walk a minefield, security experts say. From needy relatives and parasitic partners to unstable individuals or employees with ulterior motives (such as a nanny who takes the job to infiltrate their home), the rich are constantly surrounded by people who have the potential to do them harm. And that harm can include everything from identity theft to extortion, even kidnapping.

“Most prominent people, at one time or another-whether they’re from the entertainment or business community or politics-are going to attract the attention of someone who will focus on them more than they would the average person, simply because of their wealth,” says William Besse, an executive director with the security firm Andrews International.

“Money has its advantages. But it also attracts an element who may intend to do wealthy people some harm, to take advantage of that celebrity or wealth.”
While affluent people need security, they don’t always need men with dark suits and earpieces standing vigil. What they do need is to screen more and reveal less personal information, according to experts.

One of the biggest leaks in a wealthy family’s security is their children’s Facebook accounts, experts say. Highly sophisticated criminals will prowl the Internet for any information they can get about their target, and Facebook pages are ripe with things like vacation photos and people’s dates of birth. So while the parents in a wealthy family may have a heavy security detail around them, their children may unknowingly be their weakest link.

kidnapping-ransom-insurance-10-01-04

“A lot of clients don’t really think they’re vulnerable until we actually point things out,” says Dorothy Sarna, senior vice president of Risk Management Services for the Private Client Group at Chartis, which insures one third of the Forbes 400.

Whom To Trust?
It takes time for the wealthy to be able to decipher who is trustworthy and who is not, Stivi says. Some fall back on childhood friends, thinking they can trust the people who knew them before they were rich. But those relationships can sour when the wealthy individual hires a security firm that vets all of her friends and intimate partners. Many clients are reluctant to do background checks on their friends for just that reason, Stivi says.

“They feel that by doing that to another human being, it removes the personal touch. It feels like a business transaction,” he says.

But it’s essential, he says.

“It’s either that or they wind up settling out of court with some dirtbag who meant them no good. And all of that could have been avoided if they were properly screened,” Stivi says.

And that may be the best-case scenario. Kidnapping is actually one of the greatest risks the wealthy face, and it’s often perpetrated by someone they know-someone who has intimate knowledge of their comings and goings. Abductions often occur in locations where the victims feel most secure. About 90% of kidnappings occur within view of the victim’s home or office.
“The people who are closest to them and get to know their routines present their greatest vulnerability, says William Besse, an executive director at Andrews International, a security firm based in Valencia, Calif. “If it’s a high-profile criminal act, a burglary or robbery or kidnapping, the people involved are going to place that target under surveillance, and they’re going to try to learn as much as they can about this person.”

Exxon executive Sidney Reso was abducted from his own driveway in wealthy Morris Township, N.J., in 1992. Tuxedo manufacturer Harvey J. Weinstein was kidnapped in 1993 by a man who worked for Weinstein as a collar maker.

Weinstein had just finished his customary breakfast at his favorite diner when he was forced into a car and whisked away. In 2003, billionaire hedge fund manager Eddie Lampert was kidnapped at gunpoint while leaving work. They nabbed Lampert, who at the time owned the $9 billion private investment fund ESL Investments Inc., at his office after seeing that he went in every Saturday and parked in the same spot-the one with his name on it.

“A bunch of guys went onto the Internet to find out who the wealthy people in the area were. Lampert wasn’t at the top of the list, but whoever was had security measures in place, and they felt Lampert was an easier target,” says Frank Rodman, president and COO of Truefort, a New York-based security advisory firm that exclusively services the wealthy.

David Letterman’s painter hatched a plan to kidnap Letterman’s son, a plan that might have come to fruition had the painter’s accomplice not told police about it.

David-Letterman-2013

“He had the access and the opportunity. He also happened to have a criminal record that a basic due diligence at the front end might have found,” Rodman says.

Security experts say sophisticated criminals, from kidnappers to ex-KGB agents who are now unemployed and freelancing, use people like domestic help to infiltrate the lives and businesses of wealthy people. Kidnapping isn’t the only crime in which they’ve been involved. Some steal credit card numbers and bank account information, as well as other personal information that allows them to commit identity theft or fraud.

While kidnappings in the U.S. are rare, they are not beyond the realm of possibility, so wealthy individuals should prepare for those as well, security firms say.

“The success ratio of kidnap ransom in the U.S. is very low. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have a few idiots out there wanting to try,” says Ron Williams, a former Secret Service agent who has protected former U.S. presidents from Nixon to Clinton, and now owns his own security firm.

Home invasions are more frequent in the U.S. than kidnappings, Williams says. Over the last two years, Beverly Hills and Bel Air, Calif., have seen a rise in crimes in which wealthy women who have been shopping near their homes are followed back to their houses by gang members, who slip in the gate right behind them. They then rob them in their own garage or driveway and leave.

“They’ll see a woman wearing a Rolex, driving a Mercedes, and they’ll follow her home,” Williams says.

Williams advises his affluent clients to keep a low profile when they go out. People of substantial means should fly under the radar screen-meld into the environment, he says. Drive a Prius instead of a Rolls-Royce and leave the Rolex home, Williams advises.

Kidnapping is actually a greater risk for the wealthy when they travel abroad. Kidnapping rates, internationally, are on the rise, experts say, and it’s being perpetrated across the globe, from organized criminals in Brazil and Russia to drug lords in Mexico, where kidnapping has become a lucrative sideline to the drug business.

In Mexico, Colombia, and Venezuela, there’s also been a rash of so-called “express kidnappings” in the last two years, wherein a taxi driver spots a wealthy individual-perhaps because of her expensive jewelry or shoes-picks her up, but then instead of driving her to her destination, takes her to a remote location where his associates are waiting.

The tourist is then forced to go to several ATMs and take money out of her accounts. Some kidnappings are done close to midnight so if the ATM has a daily cash limit, the abductors can wait until after midnight and get another bite at the apple. Afterward, their victims are usually let go.
“It’s pretty easy for the kidnappers. It’s not as much work as having to hold someone for ransom,” says Tim Gaspar, CEO of Gaspar Insurance Services in Encino, Calif.

“Kidnap and ransom” insurers say they are getting as many as two claims a month for express kidnappings, Gaspar says.
Some wealthy individuals have purchased special GPS devices so that if they’re abducted, authorities can track down their signal and find them. BrickHouse Security sells a product called Spark Nano, which is a GPS tracker with a panic button that, if pressed, sends an instant alert to a security company monitoring the device.  It sells for $99, plus a monthly fee of about $30 to $40.

Another product is Executrac, which is basically just an app for a BlackBerry smartphone that turns the phone into a GPS device. It also includes a panic button. There’s no monthly fee, outside of the fees already charged by the person’s cell phone carrier.
“We’ve definitely seen an increased interest in the panic button feature,” says Todd Morris, president of BrickHouse Security in New York. “People are traveling internationally, leaving their children behind. They want to know that when they’re gone in Europe, if their kids have trouble, they can push a button and get help.”

Practically speaking, the Spark Nano makes more sense, Morris says, because the first thing a kidnapper does is throw his victim’s cell phone away. The Spark Nano device, on the other hand, is a tiny device that can be easily hidden. One can keep it in his or her pocket and depress the panic button without anyone noticing. Also, the battery lasts five to seven days.

Plugging Leaks
In general, security experts say the less public information out there about an individual, the less vulnerable he is. That’s why they recommend that wealthy people do not register their homes, cars, boats, planes or any other significant assets in their own name, or under their home or company address.

A good security firm will do a Google search on its client to see how much and what type of information comes up. The firm can then contact the disseminators of the information to make sure it is removed from public view.

Security-Protection-Investigations

If the client has an airplane, for example, it should not be named something that would easily identify the aircraft’s owner, experts say. If you’re Oprah Winfrey, you don’t register your airplane under the name “Harpo, Inc.” Anyone looking at an airplane’s aviation records can tell which planes are coming and going from the small airports, and with that information they can determine who is likely to be flying in and out.

Most security firms will do a basic risk assessment of their client to determine where the holes are. They look at the individual’s public profile: the level of his public prominence, the issues surrounding him in the public domain, the likelihood he will attract unwarranted attention.

Those working in the financial sector, for instance, are vulnerable these days because so many people have lost their jobs, while those on Wall Street seem to be doing fairly well. Indeed, Dick Fuld, the former CEO of Lehman Brothers, was punched in the face while working out at Lehman Brothers’ gym, just after the firm announced it was going bankrupt. AIG executives had protesters picketing outside their homes after their bonuses were announced.

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A corporate communications employee at one financial firm says she spent half a day on the telephone pleading with The Wall Street Journal not to publish a photo of one of the firm’s bankers if the paper was also going to publicly reveal the amount of his bonus. Some fear the fallout if New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo makes good on his threat to release bankers’ bonus amounts if he is elected governor.

“There could be laid off employees, because of the poor practices of a particular company, and yet employees see the heads of those companies getting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bonuses. That can make those people who received bonuses potential targets,” says Philip Farina, CEO of Farina and Associates, a Miami-based security firm that specializes in travel and hospitality. It’s changed the mentality on Wall Street. Where some in the financial sector used to strut their accomplishments and wealth, many would now rather lay low, security sources say.

It’s not just executives in financial services who are potential targets. Farina knew a corporate officer at a non-financial services company who began receiving death threats at her home from a disgruntled employee who’d been let go years earlier. The employee was identified before he was able to carry out those threats.

“Some people just wake up one day and say, ‘This is the day I’m going to do something,’ ” Farina says. 

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Tiger Kidnapping and family hostage situations


April 6 2013

Tiger Kidnapping is an extremely stressful crime whereby criminals abduct a member of staff’s family (often a child) and threaten them with harm unless the employee attends their work place, removes a large sum of money then delivers it into the hands of the criminal.

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It’s called ‘Tiger Kidnapping’ because of the way the criminals stalk their victims for some considerable amount of time before the kidnap attack and robbery takes place.

Tiger Kipnapping occurs frequently in Europe

here has also been an increase in Tiger Kidnap offences in England, Scotland and Wales, with some high profile cases attracting media attention because of the scale of loss.

To fully understand the methods and impact on the victims, it’s worth looking at these cases as reported in the media:-

BBC: The Securitas raid followed a classic tiger kidnapping. So what can be done about it?

Mum and her Four-year-old Son Kidnapped for Ransom Demand

Father and son held captive in 11-hour tiger kidnap ordeal by armed gang in cash van heist

The tiger kidnapping  

Preventing Tiger Kidnap

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Three areas you may choose to cover off to prevent Tiger Kidnapping are:-

Physical Security – Use of Drop Safes means that no one person has access to to the cash at any one time. Use time locks on the outer safe. Ensure good CCTV covers cash holding areas, and this is monitored for signs of unusual activity.

Adequate Processes and Procedures – Make it impossible for one single person on their own to access cash (dual key doors etc). Strictly enforce access and key controls, and ensure segregation of duties. E.g Store Keyholders don’t have access to the safe. Severely restrict the number of employees who can access cash areas. Have cash operation confidentiality policies backed by disciplinary action.

Situational Awareness – Potentially vulnerable staff and managers are made aware of Tiger Kidnapping, how to spot the likely surveillance which precedes it, and action to take if they see suspicious activity.

The above is intended as a very basic guide. For far more detailed advice and research see the resources below.

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Europol identifies 3600 Organised Crime Groups active in the European Union (SOCTA 2013 Report)


April 6, 2013

Source: Europol

In the most detailed study ever undertaken of its kind in the European law enforcement community Europol has identified an estimated 3,600 organised crime groups currently active in the EU. The EU Serious and Organised Crime Threat Assessment (SOCTA), published by Europol today, found that international drug trafficking remains the most active organised crime activity but it also identified the emergence of new criminal phenomena, many linked to the current economic crisis and the internet.  These new developments are changing the nature of organised crime towards a model based around a networked community of heterogeneous, international groups.

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“A new breed of organised crime groups is emerging in Europe, capable of operating in multiple countries and criminal sectors. These groups are no longer defined by their nationality or specialisation in one area of crime but by an ability to operate on an international basis, with a business-like focus on maximising profit and minimising risk. They are the epitome of our new globalised society,” says Rob Wainwright, Director of Europol.

The 2013 Serious and Organised Crime Threat Assessment (SOCTA) delivers a set of recommendations based on an in-depth analysis of the major crime threats facing the EU. The report draws on significant intelligence collected from law enforcement agencies in the EU Member States, other EU Agencies, and Europol’s own databases.  The Council of Justice and Home Affairs Ministers will use the report’s findings and recommendations to define priorities for the next four years.

Based on analysis of the prevailing threats the SOCTA 2013 has identified the crime areas which require the greatest concerted action by EU Member States and other actors to ensure the most effective impact on the general threat. These threats include crime areas that have recently gained significance or were not regarded as priority areas earlier, but now stand out against other crime threats because of their impact on society.  The priorities identified in the report are:

  • Facilitation of illegal immigration
  • Trafficking in human beings
  • Counterfeit goods with an impact on public health and safety
  • Missing Trader Intra Community (MTIC) fraud
  • Synthetic drugs production and poly-drug trafficking in the EU
  • Cybercrime
  • Money laundering

The conditions of the current economic crisis and resulting changes in consumer demand are fuelling a shift in serious criminal activity.  Reduced consumer spending power has inspired counterfeiters to expand into new product lines such as commodity counterfeiting, illicit trade in sub-standard goods and goods violating health and safety regulations. In addition to the traditional counterfeiting of luxury products, organised crime groups are now also counterfeiting daily consumer goods including foods and medical products. The increased production and distribution of these goods have significant implications for public health and safety.

Meanwhile other forms of economic crime, especially fraud, have grown in scale and impact.  Missing Trader Intra Community (MTIC) fraud, which derives from a manipulation of the VAT tax regime, is responsible for the loss of billions of Euros each year in the government revenues of Member States, illustrating the extent to which organised crime harms the economy.

Money seized by German customs agency Zoll during anti-money laundering operation is displayed before agency's annual statistics news conference in Berlin

“The fight against organised crime has big implications for the EU’s ability to secure an effective economic recovery.  Through a recent expansion of the ‘black market’ and notable developments in fraudulent activity criminal groups are denying governments, businesses, and citizens billions of Euros each year in lost tax receipts, profits, and private income.  Stronger action is needed in the EU to close down these criminal activities and protect our economic base,” says Rob Wainwright, Director of Europol.

The internet is also a major driver of criminal activity, enabling organised crime groups to access a large pool of victims, obscure their activities and carry out a diverse range of criminal acts in a shorter period of time and on a much larger scale than ever before. The spread of the internet and technological advances have caused significant shifts in crime areas and the pattern of criminal activity.

The SOCTA 2013 report is Europol’s flagship product providing information to Europe’s law enforcement community and decision-makers about the threat of serious and organised crime to the EU. The report exists in two versions a restricted for law enforcement and a public version which is available in the Europol publications section of their website.

EU crime gangs find new ways to make money in bad times

 

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