Five leading UK based food manufacturers were simultaneously threatened, demands were made for significant payments to a numbered bank account. Failure to comply would lead to contamination of their products with a lethal poison.
The blackmailers, to enforce the seriousness of their threat, sent each company contaminated samples of their products. Expert medical opinions concluded the contaminated samples would cause death if consumed by a child or elderly person.
Subsequent communication with the extortionists reaffirmed that the targeted companies were at very real risk. Linx International’s client calculated that a national product recall would incur logistics costs of £1.5 million on Day 1 and the potential losses due to ‘brand damage’ were incalculable.
Initially, each of the five-victim companies had their own specific agendas and ideas on how to counter the threat. However, Linx International secured the trust and confidence of the four companies it was not representing and, working in conjunction with various law enforcement agencies (UK and overseas), forensic scientists, environmental health agencies and the media, was instrumental arranging a unified strategy to tackle the extortionists.
After a series of communications with the extortionists, including publishing coded messages in a national newspaper, the perpetrators were eventually lured into a trap and arrested at a bank in Austria. It transpired two people were involved; they were subsequently tried, convicted and sent to prison.
The victim companies were only publicly identified after the perpetrators were apprehended and consequently the companies suffered no adverse publicity or downturn in sales.
The case has subsequently been used as a model for Crisis Management training.