Managing Your Business Like A Professional

How To Decide If A Problem Is Blackmail

by Sherri Robinson

Feeling like a victim of blackmail is one of the worst things imaginable. You might not be sure if what's happening is blackmail, though. Folks in the blackmail consulting world encourage potential clients to look at these aspects of a problem to determine what's going on.


Usually, blackmail centers on a threat to do or reveal something. For example, a digital blackmailer might have obtained explicit photos from a person's phone and is now threatening to reveal them to others.

Notably, blackmail tends to include a threat accompanied by a request for something in return. The simplest forms of blackmail center on getting money from people or businesses. However, blackmailers may also want you to do something or even not do it. Someone blackmailing a business, for example, might want them to drop a competing bid.

The basic logic of blackmail is that someone wants you to do or not do X. In exchange, they propose to reveal or not reveal Y.

Something of Value

Generally, the something involves in blackmail is something of value. A blackmailer might want access to something, especially if they're involved in corporate espionage. Old school blackmail often boils down to shaking people down for money. Regardless of the motives and goals, the blackmailer wants something of value.

This is distinguished from a simple transaction in one key way. The victim doesn't gain positive value from the deal. A transaction is two parties trading on value for their mutual benefit. Blackmail is one party seeking benefit while threatening the other party with loss.

Is it Whistleblowing?

There are scenarios where organizations misperceive whistleblowing activities as blackmail. However, most whistleblowers aren't willing to abandon their efforts in return for something of value. Also, there are legal processes for whistleblowers to register their concerns and pursue remedies without creating the appearance of blackmail. If you're concerned you might be misunderstanding the situation, a blackmail consultation can help you to straighten the ideas out.

What to Do

More than anything, seek outside help. A blackmail consulting firm can help you to assess the situation, determine if the other party's actions are untoward, and decide how to respond. Bear in mind that the solution may be as simple as doing nothing. However, don't assume that until you've discussed the problem with an experienced consultant. The solution could also involve legal complexities, such as contact or even cooperating with law enforcement.

Reach out to a blackmail consultant like Frank Ahearn for more information.