With ransoms of $1 million a hostage being paid to free victims snatched from Sipadan Island and held on the Philippine island of Jolo, it is no surprise that another dive resort nearby was hit by kidnappers. Three Malaysians were taken from Pandanan Island off the coast of Sabah state Sept. 10 and were believed to have been spirited to the Sulu Archipelago in the Philippines. Avoid the islands in the Sulu Sea near Borneo, an area that has been a pirate haven for decades.

Kidnapping has become a preferred means of raising money by criminal groups, and it has increased by 70 percent in the past eight years, according to the Hiscox insurance group. The ten worst countries for the crime are Colombia, Mexico, Former Soviet Union, Brazil, Nigeria, Philippines, India, Ecuador, Venezuela and South Africa.