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The crime involving a threat for purposes of compelling a person to do an act against his or her will, or for purposes of taking the person's money or property.

The term blackmail originally denoted a payment made by English persons residing along the border of Scotland to influential Scottish chieftains in exchange for protection from thieves and marauders.

In blackmail the threat might consist of physical injury to the threatened person or to someone loved by that person, or injury to a person's reputation. In some cases the victim is told that an illegal act he or she had previously committed will be exposed if the victim fails to comply with the demand.

Although blackmail is generally synonymous with Extortion, some states distinguish the offenses by requiring that the former be in writing.

Blackmail is punishable by a fine, imprisonment, or both.




n. the crime of threatening to reveal embarrassing, disgraceful or damaging facts (or rumors) about a person to the public, family, spouse or associates unless paid off to not carry out the threat. It is one form of extortion (which may include other threats such as physical harm or damage to property). (See: extortion)


noun exaction, extortion, hush money, illegal compulsion, oppressive exaction, protection, ransom, shakedown, taking by undue exercise of power
See also: coercion, compel, extort, extortion, graft, hush money, threaten


in English law, a person is guilty of blackmail if, with a view to gain for himself or another or with intent to cause loss to another, he makes any unwarranted demand with menaces and for this purpose menaces are unwarranted unless the person making it does so in the belief that he had reasonable grounds for making the demand and that the use of menaces is a proper means of reinforcing the demand. For Scotland, see EXTORTION.
References in periodicals archive ?
The police made inquiries into the man's social network profile and found out that he systematically blackmailed the other women on the Internet too.
He said a cashew businessman and a timber merchant from Kollam and another businessman based in Kochi were also among those blackmailed by the women.
Seven animal rights activists who blackmailed companies linked to Huntingdon Life Sciences to close down the animal testing lab were yesterday jailed for between four and 11 years.
A MERSEYSIDE man who blackmailed a family causing them to flee the country has been jailed.
Experts at Sophos have welcomed news reports that authorities in Russia have jailed a gang who blackmailed online companies through distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks.
This is not the first time that the Bush administration has blackmailed Serbia into cooperating with the UN's "justice" system.
A 39-year-old former employee of Tokyo Sowa Bank, which was declared insolvent in June 1999, has been arrested on a charge of embezzling customers' deposits after being blackmailed, police sources said Wednesday, adding that his two suspected blackmailers were also arrested.
If the respondents are rich and vulnerable enough, they are blackmailed.
If Alfred accepts Bill's offer, and subsequently keeps mum, he should not be held to have blackmailed Bill.
We do not need to be blackmailed by our government.
The last thing we need is for pillars of Irish society to be blackmailed.
Of course, the most recent instance of a gay soldier being blackmailed is generally believed to be in 1912, when Austrian Colonel Alfred Redl betrayed his country's secrets to the Russians.