What is Racketeering?

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Racketeering refers to crimes committed through extortion or coercion. A racketeer attempts to obtain money or property from another person, usually through intimidation or force. The term is typically associated with organized crime. The law defines 35 different offenses that constitute racketeering in the U.S. The list includes gambling, kidnap, murder, arson, drug dealing, and bribery. Convicted racketeers can serve up to 20 years in prison, in addition to paying a fine of up to $25,000.

What are examples of Racketeering?
Racketeering takes many forms. Recently, cyber extortion on a user’s computer has become more common. In this case, a hacker may illegally push malware onto a user’s computer, which blocks all the access to the computer and to the data stored on it. The hacker (or their partner), then demands money to restore the user’s access.

Racketeering may also take the form of a protection racket. In a protection racket, a criminal entity may threaten to cause harm to a business or an individual’s private property if the owner does not pay a fee for protection. In both examples, the criminal entity created a specific problem in order to offer a fix and earn money illegally.

Other common examples of racketeering include:
• Kidnapping: An individual is illegally detained and their captors agree to set the kidnapped individual free once a ransom is paid.
• Fencing racket: Individual(s) act as intermediaries to buy stolen goods from thieves at low rates and resell them for a profit to unsuspecting buyers.
• Numbers racket: A form of illegal gambling in which a corrupt dealer colludes with his associates disguised as gamblers to cheat other unsuspecting gamblers of their money.

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