Express kidnapping (Spanish: secuestro exprés, Portuguese: sequestro relâmpago), is a method of abduction used in some countries, mainly from Latin America, where a small ransom, that a company or family can easily pay, is demanded. It is most common in Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, and Brazil. It was frequent in Argentina following its political and economic crisis in 2001. ATM abductions, where the victim is forced to withdraw money from his or her account, are common in many urban areas of Mexico, Venezuela, Peru, and Brazil.
Express kidnappings have been known of in the US since at least July 30, 1986 when US Representative Mario Biaggi proposed having all ATM networks reprogrammed to recognize that an alternate, emergency PIN had been used to withdraw the cash. Although a 2010 congressional report asserts that the data on "express kidnappings are unavailable" it also notes that the Los Angeles Police Department has adopted an address system for tracking violent crimes associated with the ATM. By acquiring a master list of ATM addresses, the police are able to track all crimes associated with the ATM industry in their community.
In some parts of Latin America, express kidnappings are also known as a millionaire tour (in Spanish Paseo millonario), also translated as millionaire walk, when an innocent passenger takes a cab (usually at night) and is temporarily kidnapped by the driver. The cab stops nearby to pick up armed criminals who get in and take the passenger to a variety of ATMs, maxing out their bank card at each one. The victim is sometimes taken to his or her own house where he/she is robbed of personal items and then abandoned under the effects of scopolamine.
This crime is common due to corrupt administrative practices by the road authorities, resulting in the presence of illegal taxi cab operators which work with the complicity of some members of the police. Criminal gangs in these cities take advantage of this lack of control and negligence of the authorities and utilize taxi cabs to carry out this criminal practice.
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- EXPRESS KIDNAPPINGS, Sept 21, 2004
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- "Express kidnapping a way of life". The Telegraph (The Sydney Morning Herald). August 20, 2002.
- "US Congressional Record". July 30, 1986. p. 18232.
- "Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009" (PDF). Bureau of Economics, Federal Trade Commission. April 2010.