Extortion is a serious crime that can have devastating consequences for victims. Unfortunately, this type of crime is on the rise, and it’s important to know what to do if you’re targeted. In this blog post, we’ll define online extortion and explain how you can protect yourself from becoming a victim. We’ll also provide tips for reporting extortion if it happens to you. Thanks for reading!
Extortion is a criminal act where someone demands money or something else of value from another person in exchange for not carrying out a threatened action. Extortion can be carried out through threats of violence, property damage, or public humiliation. It’s also possible to demand sexual favors or access to sensitive information as part of an extortion scheme.
How Does Extortion Work?
Extortion can happen to anyone and come from a malicious or jealous individual who wants something from you and can be someone you know or a stranger. This criminal act can take place in a variety of ways, including online, also called cyber extortion or online extortion, at work, school, etc.
Extortion can take many forms and there are differences between extortion and online extortion. The definition of online extortion is when someone threatens to release damaging information or lewd content about their victim online (social media, adult websites, and more) if they don’t receive compensation, this is also known as sextortion.
In short, the way extortion works is criminals have their desires on a target and will use any number of threats in order to coerce their targets into doing what they want, or giving them what they want.
What is The Difference Between Sextortion and Extortion?
Sextortion and Extortion go hand in hand. These two crimes are fairly similar but there is a difference in the way a perpetrator forces their victim to do what they want.
The meaning of sextortion is when someone threatens to release sexual images or videos of a victim if they do not receive money or other sexual favors. In a similar way to extortion, sextortionists use public humiliation as their primary threat to obtain their demands.
Things take a shift when it comes to extortion. While extortionists also use the threat of public humiliation to get what they want, that is not the only threat they utilize, unlike sextortionists. Extortion is when a person uses coercion and physically threatens an individual to give them what they want.
Here are some examples that can bring you a clearer picture.
- An example of extortion is when the mob demands money from a business to keep it from harm.
- An example of sextortion is when an individual sends an explicit photo or video over social media or text and gets blackmailed into sending money to keep their content offline.
What is The Punishment for Online Extortion?
Extortion is deemed a punishable crime in both state and federal law. Extortion can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor depending on the circumstance of the criminal act and the history of the defendant. Penalties for extortion can vary by state and can have different outcomes.
Federal penalties on the other hand can result in 20 years in federal prison and a substantial fine if the Hobbs Act was to be violated. The Hobbs Act is a federal law that prohibits extortion or robbery by wrongful use of force or fear, or the attempt of these crimes, affecting interstate or foreign commerce. Other federal laws have lesser penalties that can result in someone serving up to 3 years in prison.
When fear of injury is involved in any extortion, the minimum penalty of extortion is 5 years imprisonment which may extend up to 14 years or a fine or even both.
How to Prevent Cyber Extortion?
When it comes to cyber extortion there are so many risks due to how large the cyber web is, allowing cybercriminals to lurk on every corner of your favorite websites, and social media platforms. While it’s impossible to completely protect yourself from extortion, there are some steps you can take to reduce your risk. Here is how to prevent extortion from happening to you
- Awareness is key, so educate yourself on what extortion is and how to recognize if you’re being targeted.
- You should also keep your personal information private online and be alert for any suspicious behavior from people you don’t personally know.
- Try to avoid any phishing emails or text messages that obtain random links.
- Do not for any reason send explicit content online, especially to someone you do not know.
It’s also important to always report extortion if you are ever faced with this type of crime. This acts as a way to prevent extortion from happening to someone else and help put an end to your harassment as well. The majority of extortion crimes go unnoticed due to victims being fearful and ashamed of themselves enough to keep quiet. Do not let your extortionist win! There are ways to overcome this crime. Here is how to report someone for extortion.
- Contact your local authorities and make a report.
- Contact the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).
- Contact blackmail specialists.
- Report the crime on the platform it is taking place on.
If you are a victim of extortion, it’s important to take action immediately. The sooner you report the crime, the easier it will be to track down the perpetrator and get your life back on track. Have you been a victim of extortion? We want to hear from you. Share your story in the comments below and help raise awareness about this dangerous crime.