When James Christodoulou, the CEO of a small shipping company based in Connecticut, found out that one of his firm's two vessels had been hijacked by Somali pirates, he was about to be swept into a life-changing drama.

Serving as his own ransom negotiator, Christodoulou dealt on a daily basis with his counterparts in Somalia: the men who act as liaisons between the pirate gangs and the companies whose ships they've siezed.

Click below for an inside look into the minutiae of this secretive world: a fax from a pirate negotiator to Christodoulou, communicating a series of veiled threats. Note, too, the blocked-out figure at the top of the fax: the sum the pirates were then demanding of Christodoulou's company.

>>See The Ransom Note




Scott Eden has covered business -- both large and small -- for more than a decade. Prior to joining TheStreet.com, he worked as a features reporter for Dealmaker and Trader Monthly magazines. Before that, he wrote for the Chicago Reader, that city's weekly paper. Early in his career, he was a staff reporter at the Dow Jones News Service. His reporting has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Men's Journal, the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, and the Believer magazine, among other publications. He's also the author of Touchdown Jesus (Simon & Schuster, 2005), a nonfiction book about Notre Dame football fans and the business and politics of big-time college sports. He has degrees from Notre Dame and Washington University in St. Louis.

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