Extortion is an act by which a person, or group, is coerced into doing something they do not want to do. This is against their patrimony and for the benefit of the extortionist or third parties. It is done through threats or violence.
Extortion consists of an individual putting pressure on another for financial purposes. That is, the one who presses through threats or physical violence, seeks that the threatened person give money or other assets to the extortionist or to a third party.
This third party may be someone who has hired the extortionist. This practice is illegal and constitutes a crime, set out in the respective criminal codes of the different countries.
This act is typical of criminal gangs such as mafias, they use extortion to profit and control areas where they move their illegal businesses. In return, these mafias usually provide certain security against third parties, which is charged at a very high cost.
To illustrate a case, a common practice would be to extort money from local business owners in a neighborhood. They guarantee some protection against other gangs or thieves and, in return, they obtain a sum of money periodically.
Another famous mafia performance is usually that of favors. The mafia performs a favor for a certain person, taking advantage of their unfavorable situation. Subsequently, the mafia, by virtue of the favor given, continually extorts the subject.
Types of extortion
There are numerous ways to carry out extortion. The Federal Police of Mexico collects a very complete typology regarding the ways in which extortion can occur.
They are as follows:
- Direct extortion: In this type, the offender is in front of the victim and informs him that he belongs to a criminal organization. He claims money in exchange for not hurting him, he usually threatens the death of a relative. It also tends to intimidate by damaging the victim’s home or business.
- Indirect extortion: We found six subtypes that are usually carried out by telephone:
- Prize: The offender notifies the victim that he has won a prize and that he will get it if he deposits a certain amount of money in the bank.
- Virtual kidnapping of a relative: The extortionist informs the victim that he has kidnapped a relative, which he proves through a recording of a person crying. Through a payment you will release it.
- Threat of death or kidnapping: The offender threatens the victim with killing or kidnapping members of his family. This becomes realistic when it provides you with real data about your home or family. Demand payment of an amount to stop extorting money from you.
- Debts incurred: The extortionist impersonates a bank or collection entity. It requires the subject to pay an outstanding debt. If the victim is not receptive, he will tell you that the consequences can be much worse.
We can add to this list two more types of extortion that are being carried out regularly in the digital age.
These are cyber-extortion and sextortion.
The first consists of extorting through computerized means, either through websites or social networks. Sextortion usually also uses computer platforms, but expressly refers to sexual content. The victim is threatened with publishing intimate photos if he is not paid or an agreement is reached.
Extortion in Mexico
Mexican law includes the crime of extortion in the Twenty-second Title of its Second Book, called Crimes against People in their Estate. Specifically in Article 390.
It defines it as follows: “To the one who without right forces another to give, do, stop doing or tolerate something, obtaining a profit for himself or for another or causing someone a patrimonial damage, two to eight will be applied years in prison and a fine of forty to one hundred and sixty days ”.
The article also specifies that penalties will be toughened if they are carried out by members or former members of the public servants and the police forces. Adding his dismissal and disqualification.
Extortion in Colombia
The Colombian country regulates extortion in article 244 of the Penal Code.
In the first place, it defines extortion in a very similar way to the Mexican case. Later it indicates the penalties.
In this sense, we are talking about prison terms of between sixteen and twenty-four years, as well as a fine of between eight hundred and one thousand eight hundred monthly minimum wages.
Examples of extortion
To better understand what extortion entails in practice, we are going to mention some real examples:
- Revolutionary taxDuring the active years of the terrorist gang ETA in Spain, the gang extorted numerous businessmen and relevant figures from the Basque Country. They were forced to pay the so-called “revolutionary tax” to get funding for the armed struggle.
- The camorra: In 2008, Antonio Zucchini was the victim of one of the many episodes he had with the Italian mafia. In a public work carried out by his company, he was questioned by a man who demanded 5% of the profits. Before his complaint and arrest, Antonio’s car appeared burned some time later.
- Bella Thorne: The actress was blackmailed by a hacker who obtained nude photos of her. Bella decided to post them herself on social media to undo the extortion.