Blackmail is the act of getting money from people or forcing them to do something by threatening to tell a secret of theirs or to harm them- Cambridge Dictionary

Blackmail means demanding payment from a person in return for not revealing something shameful about them. Blackmail is also an act of coercion, using the threat of revealing or publicizing either substantially true or false information about a person or people unless certain demands are met. It is often damaging information, and may be revealed to family members or associates rather than to the general public.

Did you know Blackmail was originally a term from the Scottish Borders meaning payments rendered in exchange for protection from thieves and marauders?

The “mail” in the word meant “tribute, rent” and was derived from an old Scandinavian word, “mal,” meaning “agreement.” The “black” in blackmail is thought to be a play on “white money,” the term for the silver coins with which tenant farmers traditionally paid their legitimate rent.

Simply put, blackmail is a threat to harm someone (physically or emotionally) if they do not do something the blackmailer wants. In some states, blackmail must be in writing, and if it is not, it is called “extortion.”

Surfing through the streets of Twitter, we must have read news of individuals threatening to expose their ex’s lewd pictures if not paid a “ransom.” This is a typical example of a Blackmail.

Blackmailing is a cruel  form of extortion done by threatening to reveal a sensitive, compromising or destructive piece of information about an individual. 

The perpetrator actively demands for monies or valuable assets from a poor victim in exchange for keeping the victim’s secret information. 

Blackmail is considered a crime regardless of whether the information is true or false. The central element of the crime is the blackmailer’s intent to obtain money, property, or services from the victim with threats of revealing the information. Blackmail is punishable by a fine, imprisonment, or both.”

It is generally not advisable to succumb to a blackmail  because agreeing to give the blackmailer what he or  she demands opens a window for the latter to come again with bigger demands. 

Remember, as a rule, we do not negotiate with terrorists. The best way to deal with this is to inform a close associate (family/friend) and go about with your daily activities. Should the threat continue, report the same to the relevant government agency. You definitely have a right to privacy.

written by Taiwo Lawal & Rereloluwa Williams

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