Extortion

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Extortion (also called blackmail*, shakedown, outwresting, and exaction) is a criminal offence of unlawfully obtaining money, property, or services from a person, entity, or institution, through coercion. Refraining from doing harm is sometimes euphemistically called protection. Extortion is commonly practiced by organized crime groups. The actual obtainment of money or property is not required to commit the offense. Making a threat of violence which refers to a requirement of a payment of money or property to halt future violence is sufficient to commit the offense. Exaction refers not only to extortion or the unlawful demanding and obtaining of something through force,[1] but additionally, in its formal definition, means the infliction of something such as pain and suffering or making somebody endure something unpleasant.[2]

Extortion is distinguished from robbery. In armed robbery, the offender takes goods from the victim with use of immediate force. In robbery goods are taken or an attempt is made to take the goods against the will of another—with or without force. A bank robbery or extortion of a bank can be committed by a letter handed by the criminal to the teller. In extortion, the victim is threatened to hand over goods, or else damage to their reputation or other harm or violence against them may occur. Under United States federal law extortion can be committed with or without the use of force and with or without the use of a weapon. A key difference is that extortion always involves a written or verbal threat whereas robbery can occur without any verbal or written threat.

The term extortion is often used metaphorically to refer to usury or to price-gouging, though neither is legally considered extortion. It is also often used loosely to refer to everyday situations where one person feels indebted against their will, to another, in order to receive an essential service or avoid legal consequences.

Neither extortion nor blackmail require a threat of a criminal act, such as violence, merely a threat used to elicit actions, money, or property from the object of the extortion. Such threats include the filing of reports (true or not) of criminal behavior to the police, revelation of damaging facts (such as pictures of the object of the extortion in a compromising position), etc.

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United States

In the United States, extortion may also be committed as a federal crime across a computer system, phone, by mail or in using any instrument of interstate commerce. Extortion requires that the individual sent the message willingly and knowingly as elements of the crime. The message only has to be sent (but does not have to reach the intended recipient) to commit the crime of extortion.

Similar crimes

See also

References

  1. ^ "Exaction - definition of exaction by the Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia". Thefreedictionary.com. http://www.thefreedictionary.com/exaction. Retrieved 2012-06-05.
  2. ^ "Exact definition - Dictionary - MSN Encarta". Exact definition - Dictionary - MSN Encarta. Archived from the original on 2009-10-31. http://www.webcitation.org/5kwc1Rfdf.

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