Recently, the perpetrator of a catfishing scheme was charged with extortion, cyberstalking, and interstate threats. The alleged perpetrator is believed to have used multiple wealthy, high profile men to release sexually explicit photographs and communications involving these individuals if they did not pay her.
In New York, blackmail is known as “Extortion.” It is a felony under New York law.
This law is covered in New York Penal Law Section 155.02(2)(e).
A person is considered to have committed extortion when they use one of several fears to compel another person to deliver property to them, including money. These fears include:
- The fear that the blackmailer will cause physical injury to some person in the future.
- The fear that the blackmailer will cause damage to property.
- The fear that the blackmailer will engage in some other conduct constituting a crime.
- The fear that the blackmailer will accuse them of a crime or cause criminal charges to be instituted against them.
- The fear that the blackmailer will expose a secret or publicize an asserted fact, whether true or false, tending to subject that person to hatred, contempt, or ridicule.
- The fear that the blackmailer will cause a strike, boycott, or other collective labor group action injurious to some person’s business; except when the property is demanded or received for the benefit of the group in whose interest the actor purports to act (i.e., union strikes are legal).
- The fear that the blackmailer will testify, provide information, or withhold testimony or information with respect to another person’s legal claim or defense.
- The fear the blackmailer will use or abuse his position as a public servant by performing some act within or related to his official duties, or by failing or refusing to perform an official duty, in some manner as to affect some person adversely.
- The fear the blackmailer will perform any other act which would not in itself materially benefit the actor, but which is calculated to harm another person materially with respect to his health, safety, business, calling, career, financial condition, reputation, or personal relationships.
Penalties for extortion depend on the value of the property. It’s also based on whether or not the alleged blackmailer actually received any property. The levels are exceeding $1,000, $3,000, or $50,000 (Grand Larceny by Extortion). The crime is also a great deal more serious when the blackmailer uses threats to cause physical injury or to damage property. It’s a class E felony at its lowest level, carrying up to a four year prison sentence. By the time it becomes a class B felony when more than $50,000 is at stake, you can face up to 25 years in prison.
If you’ve been accused of blackmail, you’ll need help. Reach out to our law office to schedule a case review today.
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