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KidnapInside the Ransom Business$
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Anja Shortland

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198815471

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198815471.001.0001

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Trading with Kidnappers

Trading with Kidnappers

(p.149) 8 Trading with Kidnappers

Anja Shortland

Oxford University Press

Once a price is agreed, kidnappers tend to demand payment in unmarked, small-denomination notes. How do people deliver the cash to the right addressee without putting themselves at risk? How do kidnappers collect it without being apprehended? And why would they release a potential future witness after getting the ransom? This chapter analyses how these tricky logistical, contracting, and enforcement problems are resolved in practice. Different solutions are appropriate in different local contexts and price segments. We observe a vibrant market for (cost-)effective solutions to trade problems and intense evolutionary competition between providers. Market concentration and excellent information flow ensure great financial rewards for successful innovators.

Keywords:   hostage exchanges, prisoners’ dilemma, relational contract, dead drop, middlemen, double cross, release, evolutionary competition

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