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10 things you need to know this month

10 things you need to know this month

  • 01. An American tourist and her driver were kidnapped on 2 April in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda. The kidnappers demanded US$500,000 for their release. An unknown ransom amount was paid and several suspects have since been arrested.
  • 02. On 10 March Gregory Kucherkov, the CEO of Cornerstone, a Ukranian blockchain real estate investment firm, was kidnapped in Kiev. Kucherov, who splits his time between New York and Kiev, was taking Cornerstone through an Initial Coin Offering (ICO). CCTV video of the kidnapping was released on YouTube.
  • 03. In March, Israeli police arrested three French Israeli citizens accused of a scam in which they pretend to be the French foreign minister requesting assistance with paying ransoms for hostages held in Mali and Syria. One victim reportedly transferred €8 million.
  • 04. Gavin de Becker, an investigator for Jeff Bezos, alleged on 1 April that the Saudi Government hacked the Amazon CEO’s phone, in response to his newspaper’s coverage of Jamal Khashoggi’s murder. De Becker claimed the Saudi Government was a source for the National Enquirer’s story about Jeff Bezos’private life. The Saudi Government and National Enquirer deny the allegations. De Becker says he has passed his findings to federal officials.
  • 05. Police in Los Angeles issued a warning on 20 March that virtual kidnappers are targeting wealthy Southern Californians. The ‘kidnappers’ demand payment in exchange for the return of children who they falsely claim to have kidnapped. It is reported that the calls largely originate from Mexican prisons.
  • 06. Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels are moving their bases from Democratic Republic of Congo to northern Mozambique, rebranding as Madinat Tawhid-wa-I-Muwahidin (MTM), and are now allied to al Qaeda. This could indicate an uptick in kidnap for ransom activities in the country.
  • 07. The Sabah region of Malaysia re-extended its curfew hours from dawn until dusk as it went on heightened alert over threats posed by the Abu Sayyaf terror group. Sabah Police Commissioner said on 14 March that the curfew was necessary due to the “continuing threat of kidnap-for-ransom groups and other criminals from neighbouring Philippines”.
  • 08. Four crewmembers from the container ship Contship Oak were kidnapped off the coast of Cameroon on 30 March. The US and its allies had recently conducted large-scale anti-piracy drills in the region. Pirate attacks off Nigeria have become increasingly violent, with pirates employing multiple attack boats and engaging in shootouts with naval escorts.
  • 09. On 18 March, one of the world’s largest producers of aluminium, Norsk Hydro, was hit by a cybersecurity attack and forced to shift to manual production across its global network. It is suspected that USbased criminals performed the attack using ransomware.
  • 10. A wealthy Chinese student, Wanzhen Lu, was kidnapped in the parking garage of his building in a Toronto suburb on 23 March. Lu was subsequently rescued by police after an undisclosed ransom was paid for his release.

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