Extortion Definition

Learn about extortion, a criminal offense involving threats and coercion to obtain money or services. Explore examples, case studies, and statistics.

What is Extortion?

Extortion is a criminal offense that involves obtaining money, property, or services from an individual or entity through coercion or intimidation. It typically involves threats of violence, harm, or damage to the victim or their loved ones if they do not comply with the demands of the extortionist.

Types of Extortion

  • Blackmail
  • Ransom
  • Protection Money

Examples of Extortion

One common example of extortion is a criminal gang demanding protection money from businesses in a specific area in exchange for safety. Another example is a hacker threatening to release sensitive information unless a ransom is paid.

Case Studies

In 2008, former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was arrested for attempting to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama. He was charged with extortion and sentenced to 14 years in federal prison.

Statistics on Extortion

According to the FBI, there were over 12,000 reported cases of extortion in the United States in 2020. However, it is believed that many cases go unreported due to fear of retaliation from the extortionists.

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