Moving is one of the most stressful necessities an individual will have to face over the course of their lives. Some folks made it even more stressful and now they’re facing charges related to the scheme.
According to police, moving company employees would offer customers discounted rates on services, getting them to sign customer-friendly contracts for moving services. Once the movers gained access to the victim’s personal property, they would hold it ransom until the victims signed another price-gouged contract. If the victims refused to sign the contract, the movers would either keep their personal property or sell it off.
While the Las Vegas PD’s financial crimes section took point on the arrest, they did so with the help of West Palm Beach FBI field offices, and the victims themselves. Now, five have been arrested for conspiracy to extort a debt, extorting a debt, theft, and fraud.
What is extortion?
Extortion is a complex crime, because extortion is based on specific types of threats, but not all threats qualify as extortion. In fact, extortion happens every day in America with no one really noticing. Jeffrey Epstein was able to run a pedophile empire off of dirty laundry alone, and got away with it for years before finally being offered a sweetheart deal simply because he could hurt a lot of people with what he knew. Is that extortion? If so, then why wasn’t it charged?
In this case, the extortion is much more open and the threat is obviously illegal. The defendants tricked the victims into signing a very fair offer for moving services. When they did so, the defendants held the victim’s property ransom unless and until they signed a much less favorable contract.
Here, the threat is obvious. If you don’t pay me money, then I will steal all of your belongings. Here, the second element of crime is already established. The intent of the threat is to bilk the victim for more money. A third element involves fear. The victim must actually believe that the extorter can carry out the threat. In this case, the extorters have the victim’s property. Finally, the prosecution must show that there is some property or other benefit that the extorter is seeking. In the aforementioned case, it was money.
Defenses to extortion
The aforementioned suspects may not have much of a defense, since they forced their victims to sign contracts provided by them. However, intent can be difficult to establish in some cases, and the violence or threat must be criminal in nature. If there is no intent to commit a crime, there is no extortion.
Talk to a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney
Are you facing criminal charges related to extortion? A West Palm Beach criminal attorney could help. Call The Skier Law Firm, P.A. today to schedule an appointment and discuss your situation in more detail.