Pirates Demand Ransom ... on Personalized Letterhead
And they're fairly polite about it
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 13, 2012 10:30 AM CDT
Royal Marines and Royal Navy boarding teams from the HMS Westminster prepare to board a pirate vessel containing 12 suspected pirates as a Merlin 502 helicopter flies overhead.   (AP Photo/Royal Navy/Crown Copyright/MOD 2012)

(Newser) – Passengers on boats hijacked off the African coast could find themselves presented with a formal welcome letter from the pirates boarding their ship, Reuters reports, in an offbeat look at their latest tactics. African pirates take their business quite seriously, to the point where they have their own letterhead. Reuters took a look at one packet of paperwork, which was given to the owner and insurer of a hijacked oil tanker. It begins, "To Whom It May Concern," and the subject line is—seriously—"Congratulations to the Company/Owner."

It continues quite politely, "Having seen when my Pirate Action Group had controlled over your valuable vessel we are saying to you Company/Owner welcome to Jamal's Pirate Action Group and you have to follow by our law to return back your vessel and crew safely." It is signed "Best regards" and stamped with a skull seal. Some insurers offer "kidnap and ransom" policies (typical price: $5,000 for $5 million in coverage, for one voyage, and so long as armed guards patrol the ship) , and this type of paperwork would start the ball rolling in terms of getting the ransom paid, notes Reuters.