What Are the Different Types of Blackmail?

Coercion is a form of blackmail that occurs when someone is intimidated by threat of physical harm to participate in activities that are considered to be illegal.
Extortion is a form of blackmail that may occur when one acquires personal knowledge of another that may cause irreparable damage if made public.
Homosexuals were common targets of blackmailers in the past.
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  • Written By: Florence J. Tipton
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 12 October 2014
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Blackmail is the act of coercing an individual or entity to agree to some form of payment in exchange for not revealing a secret. Sometimes, a threat of bodily harm or death is used to make an individual or entity provide with some form of compensation or perform a criminal act. By using illegal means to obtain compensation, this crime may encompass several different forms, including extortion, coercion, and commercial pressure.

Extortion is the use of verbal or written threats against an individual or entity to expose private information, although, in some cases, it may occur without acts of violence. Generally, it involves using private, personal knowledge of another that may cause irreparable damage if the information is made public. A person who uses extortion threatens to reveal the information unless an individual or entity fulfills an illegal request for a payoff.

Coercion occurs when an individual is forcibly intimidated to participate in an illegal activity. The threat of physical or irrevocable harm is used to procure favors that, without the threat, the person would not participate in. Fear tactics — such as threats of bodily harm or death to the individual or his family members — are used to compel do what the criminal wants.


Threats of action within commercial blackmail may involve revealing business practices that could damage the business’ reputation. This could include, for example, revealing trade secrets that give the business a competitive edge, such as a recipe or an internal marketing practice. Other secrets damaging to a business might be a negative business practice such as illegal dumping of toxic chemicals.

The legal interpretation of each type of blackmail may vary slightly by jurisdiction, but will generally include two standards. First is the intent to use embarrassing information or threats of physical harm as leverage to gain favors. The second standard is that the blackmailer would not receive compensation or an agreement to commit an unlawful act from the victim without the making of threats.

Proving extortion, coercion, or commercial pressure might be difficult, depending on the evidence that exists. Physical evidence, such as an audio or video recording, could lead to a stronger case. Often, the court may consider whether the accused has a criminal history and the value of compensation sought.


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Post 4

@kylee07drg – My best friend in third grade used to be the queen of emotional blackmail! She really knew what she was doing.

She used to ask me to give her parts of my lunch at school, even though she had already bought a lunch. She would say, “If you really were my friend, you would give me that cookie.” I usually ended up breaking it in half and compromising.

She also used, “I won't be your friend anymore if you don't do this for me.” “This” could be anything from letting her copy my homework to giving her one of my decorative pens.

Post 3

Commercial blackmail sounds like something that would usually be attempted by someone on the inside. I have heard blackmail stories about disgruntled workers who used commercial blackmail to get promotions or raises.

I understand that threatening a business with something like revealing a secret recipe might result in a conviction and jail time for the blackmailer. However, if an employee knows that the business is doing something illegal and they threaten to reveal that, this might just be motivation enough for the business to give the employee that raise.

Post 2

Some members of my family are bad about using emotional blackmail to get what they want. My grandfather is bedridden, and my aunt often guilts my mother into taking over what should be her responsibilities regarding him.

My aunt is single and has no children, so she agreed to be his main caretaker. My mother agreed to help out as necessary, but since she has five kids and is a very busy lady, she doesn't have time to do much.

My aunt asks for help too often, in our opinion. When my mother says that she has other obligations and can't help, my aunt says things like, “He really needs you. Do your husband and kids mean more to you than your own father?”

I think this is a really dirty thing to do. It worked the first few times, but my mom caught on before long and confronted her about it.

Post 1

Blackmail may be hard to prove, but I'm just glad that blackmail laws exist at all. Without them in place to deter individuals from attempting this, we might see a lot more of it.

It's always good to have some form of legal discouragement in place for things like this. Even if it is one person's words against another's, at least it can go to court, and the victim has a chance of being protected.

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