Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Extortion: A Problem Facing Business Owners Worldwide

In The Godfather II, Don Fanucci demands "protection" money from small business owners and shopkeepers in New York City's Little Italy. The shopkeepers comply, fearing repercussions at the hand of Fanucci as a result of not paying the fee, rather than some other danger.

Later in the movie, a young Vito Corleone loses his job when his boss is asked by Fanucci to provide his nephew a job. Unable to afford both Vito and Fanucci's nephew on the payroll, he has to let Vito go.

Although these and other aspects of the Godfather series are fictionalized accounts, this kind of extortion took place frequently during that time, just as it did in the Vito's native Italy. In fact, extortion continues to take place worldwide, every day.

Shop owners, bus drivers and street vendors all have to make weekly extortion payments to the many gangs in Medellin, Colombia. The payments are small and difficult to track, but add up to big profits. - http://insightcrime.org/insight-latest-news/item/1479-micro-extortion-fills-pockets-of-colombia-gangs

The poorer areas of many large cities across the world are rife with gangs demanding extortion payments, or "protection", from small vendors, street performers, drivers, etc.

The largest reason they get away with it largely is that few victims are willing to risk violence or having their property destroyed at the hands of the extortionists, especially for what might only amount to ten dollars per week. Although many depend on what little money they have to survive and feed their families, many fear for the safety of their families.

Extortion is not only a problem in poor nations, however. Many individuals in "white collar" professions encounter it as well. Peter J. Scuderi is a Philadelphia Extortion Lawyer with experience representing both businesses and individuals charged with extortion.

Although the word "extortion" conjures up images of street thugs strong-arming their victims out of money, many of those charged are well-meaning victims of fraud and other crimes themselves.

For example, if a business discovers that one of its employees has been stealing from company inventory, it might decide to tell the employee to pay for the cost of the stolen merchandise, or else it will report the crime to the police.

Although the company might mean well, intending to remediate without causing legal prosecution and possibly a criminal record for the employee, the company itself can technically be charged with extortion for handling the issue in this way.

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