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Different types of extortion

The first part of building a strong criminal defense case is understanding the charges. Most terms for criminal activities are general categories comprising various ways people can commit that crime.

This applies to extortion, as well. The overarching definition of extortion is to force or threaten someone in order to receive money or property from the person. The following are some of the different criminal actions that fall under extortion.


The foundation of extortion is making threats, such as:

  • Violence to the person
  • Damage to the person’s property
  • Arrest or imprisonment
  • Testimony against the person
  • Refusal to testify in the person’s defense
  • Denial of services or money

A similar variety is offering protection, meaning that the person pays a fee in exchange for protection against vandalism, theft or other harm. The person’s family members and friends may also be the recipient of these threats.


Blackmail is probably the most well-known type. It entails the threat to reveal embarrassing or scandalous information about the person to loved ones or the public. The intent is to ruin the person’s reputation unless he or she pays to keep the damaging information private.

Cyber extortion

A more recent form of extortion uses computers to reach targets. Ransomware, a type of malware, encrypts important files and other needed data on a computer so the user cannot access them without paying for a decryption code.

Another method is attacking a business’s computer network so it shuts down and then demanding money to end the attack. This type is now the most lucrative computer crime, according to Risk Management Magazine, outranking theft of intellectual property. Other threats include erasing data or posting financial information, such as credit card numbers, online.

Criminal demographics

Despite public perception, extortion is not something that only applies to organized crime or anonymous hackers. Anyone with authority or access to valuable information, from government officials to business executives, is susceptible to participating in extortion and facing criminal charges.

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