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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 claims first surfaced in a national Sunday newspaper, which said the alleged blackmailers first contacted the Royal's aides on August 2.
The claims surfaced in The Sunday Times, which said alleged blackmailers had contacted royal aides on August 2.
The claims first surfaced in yesterday's Sunday Times, which said the alleged blackmailers first contacted the royal's aides on August 2.
Posing as an aide, an undercover detective contacted the blackmailers and arranged a meeting at the London Hilton in Park Lane.
His blackmailers have an inflated opinion of what their socalled exclusive footage shows.
TELECOMWORLDWIRE-30 December 2003-Cyber blackmailers target office workers(C)1994-2003 M2 COMMUNICATIONS LTD http://www.
Burglars, murders, blackmailers, straying spouses--no one can outsmart our favorite sleuth.
The oldest is in fact titled The Blackmailers (1894), by John Gray and Marc-Andre Raffalovich, two associates of Wilde.
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.
Terrified he would be branded a"poof" like his gay twin Ronnie, he ordered two London hitmen to warn the would-be blackmailers they would be killed if they talked.
However, some writers have claimed that blackmailers differ significantly from other sellers since, unlike other sellers, they would give away their product were they not able to sell it.
Highly organized criminal blackmailers are now targeting these gaming sites with aggressive DoS attacks and are also demonstrating a disturbing familiarity with the gaming business itself.