Most kidnaps are carried out in order to obtain a ransom, and in most cases a ransom is paid. Rescues are rare, largely because the authorities in most countries recognize that the safety of the victim is paramount. While the average occurrence of deaths following a kidnap is 9%; this almost always is at the time of abduction rather than during the negotiation.
Demands can be huge, with more than 14 countries recording cases of $25m or more in recent years. Kidnappers usually settle at between 10 and 20 per cent of the demand, except in the old Soviet Union where the Mafia is extremely reluctant to negotiate and uses excessive violence to achieve its aims.
While most ransom payments are kept confidential, we are aware of some substantial sums that have been paid. Latin America features heavily in the list, but many of the largest settlements have been made in Europe. Recent years have seen a noticeable increase in average ransom payments.