Blackmail is the crime of threatening to reveal damaging or embarrassing information in order to coerce money or other goods or forms of cooperation out of the victim. For blackmail to be effective, the blackmailer must, in most cases, have physical proof of the information he or she threatens to reveal, such as photographs or letters. Blackmail is often considered synonymous with extortion, and in this sense it may rely on a threat of action other than exposing the victim's secrets.
Some laws distinguish between blackmail and extortion, while others do not. Blackmail may be defined as extortion attempts in writing. Alternatively, blackmail may refer only to threats of action that is not illegal per se, such as revealing compromising photographs, while extortion relies on more active threats, such as physical harm.
The victim of blackmail is typically threatened with exposure of his or her private life, the consequences of which can range from embarrassing to socially devastating to legally damning. A blackmailer may threaten to expose the victim's extramarital affair, for example. Homosexuals were often blackmailed in the past, though this is less common as alternative sexualities are increasingly more accepted. At its most serious, blackmail may rest on the exposure of a serious crime, which would do infinitely more damage to the victim than complying with the blackmailer. Even secret information that is not of a criminal nature, however, can make the victim of blackmail feel that he or she has no recourse against the crime.
A relatively new form of blackmail, more similar to extortion, is known as commercial blackmail. In this crime, a business is the victim. The blackmailer threatens an action which would be devastating to the company's sales or reputation and typically demands a large payment. The perpetrator may, for example, threaten to interfere with the company's ability to conduct Internet sales. In a recent case of commercial blackmail in Australia, the blackmailer claimed to have poisoned a small random selection of the victim's candy bar products.
Online Dating Extortion and Other Scams The latest report from the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) reinforces the fact that people looking for love online need to remain vigilant about who they choose to communicate with and how they do so. In a recently reported dating extortion scam, victims usually met someone on an online dating site and then were asked to move the conversation to a particular social networking site, where the talk often turned intimate. Victims were later sent a link to a website where those conversations were posted, along with photos, their phone numbers, and claims that they were “cheaters.” In order to have that information removed, victims were told they could make a $99 payment—but there is no indication that the other side of the bargain was upheld. Other items in this month’s IC3 report include a new variation on the classic payday loan scam; new malware that has infected at least 250,000 victims, including 46 Fortune 500 companies; and the top words used by cyber criminals in fake e-mails.
He thought he had made the acquaintance of a Syrian woman on the Internet and as the relationship progressed they decided to meet for dinner.
So he went to Zabeel Park to wait for her but she did not turn up.
Instead of a date, the evening turned into a nightmare for the 32-year-old Indian sales executive as a young man arrived at the park instead and claimed to be the woman’s brother.
He allegedly began threatening the sales executive, asking for Dh25,000 and saying unless the man paid he would be handcuffed, taken to the police station and thrown into jail.
The young man is also alleged to have said that his brother was a CID officer to add substance to his threat.
The sales executive said he did not have the amount demanded and eventually gave the young man Dh5,000.
He then reported the incident at Al Rafaa police station and following police instructions, laid a trap for the young man through a friend.
When the young man showed up once again, this time to extort the sales executive’s friend, he was arrested red-handed.
Investigations are said to have subsequently revealed that the young man was a 20-year-old Indian student who used the Internet to lure men looking for romantic liaisons into his clutches.
There was no woman involved, the court was told.
The young man pretended to be a woman online so that he could ask the gullible men for a date.
Then he would turn up in his own persona to intimidate them and extort money from them.
The sales executive, the court was told, was not the first victim.
The student allegedly extorted Dh5,000 from another man he met on a dating site.
He duped the man into believing that he was a woman and followed the same modus operandi to make him pay up.
After the Indian sales executive reported the extortion to police in September and the student was arrested, the Court of First Instance sentenced him to six months in jail and deportation for threatening to commit a crime, extortion and attempted extortion.
On appealing against the verdict, the Court of Appeal upheld it. Now the case is under re-trial.
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