White Collar Crime – Extortion

White-collar crime, or nonviolent and typically financial crimes, has been made famous in recent years by high-profile cases and television dramas. However, many people are at a loss of what to do when faced with white-collar charges in their lives.

The reality is that white-collar crimes can be vague and confusing. We are going to shed some light on one of the most well-known white-collar crimes: Extortion.

What Is Extortion?

Simply put, extortion occurs when you use real or threatened force to get something that they want from another person. Usually, the “something they want” is money or property, but it can also be information or anything of value. The force involved does not have to be physical and often takes the form of intimidation or threats.

What Makes an Act Extortion?

For a court of law to label an event as “extortion,” three things must happen:

  1. A person must threaten the victim in some way.
  2. The person must be using the threat to make the victim do something.
  3. The victim must agree to do what the person asks, usually out of fear of the threat.

If an event meets all three of these conditions, a court can find the person guilty of extortion.

Is Extortion a Crime?

Yes! Extortion is a felony in every state and is illegal in most countries around the world. The 1946 Hobbs Act made extortion illegal in the United States, and many states have also enacted laws against extortion.

Examples of Extortion

If you are considering something that has happened to you and wondering: Was that extortion? You are not alone. Let’s break down a few examples of what extortion looks like in a real scenario.

Threat of Harm to Victim

The most obvious example of extortion is when a person threatens to harm another person if they do not do what they want them to do. The extortionist could be demanding money, property, information, or anything else that would benefit them.

The threat of harm can be physical, such as violence against the victim or the victim’s property. However, it could also be related to harming the victim in other ways, such as releasing private information or images or threatening to disrupt the victim’s career or relationships with others.

Threat of Harm to Others

Another example of extortion comes when a person threatens to harm someone other than the victim. They could jeopardize the safety or well-being of a victim’s family members, friends, colleagues, or others who are close to them.

As with the first example, these threats can be physical, but they do not have to be. They can take many forms, all of which will negatively impact the lives of someone close to the victim.

Threat of Harm to Property

An extortionist can also threaten to destroy a victim’s property if they do not comply with their demands. An example of this could be threatening to destroy a residence, vehicle, sales inventory, or any other property of value to the victim.


Blackmail is likely the most known type of extortion. It occurs when an extortionist threatens to expose sensitive information or materials about a person if they do not meet their demands. This sensitive information can be knowledge, photos, writing, recordings, or anything else the victim would prefer to keep secret.

Cyber Extortion

Cyber extortion refers to extorting people using computers or the internet and takes many forms. This type of extortion has grown in popularity over the last two decades as people store more of their personal information and images on their computers.

One example is when hackers threaten to expose bank records or other financial details of companies or individuals unless they give them what they want. Another typical instance of cyber extortion occurs when people threaten to release explicit photos of their victims unless their conditions are met.

What Are the Penalties of Extortion?

The penalties for extortion can vary based on where you are in the United States. Most states include a fine of $10,000 or higher and up to 25 years in prison. Some will also require the guilty party to repay the victim.

It is best to check the specific guidelines for your state to learn more about the penalties of extortion where you live.

What to Do if You Are Charged with Extortion

If you have been formally accused or charged with extortion, it is essential to contact an attorney from Zoukis Consulting Group as soon as possible. Now that you know more about the crime you are dealing with, let us help you defend yourself in court.

Come in today for an initial consultation.

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