Blackmailer trying to ruin my marriage
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Harassment by blackmail case study
If you are targeted online by someone who is blackmailing you, the urge to block them or to try and make the blackmail go away is inevitably strong. However, this strategy to deal with online internet blackmail might not work and might result in serious adverse consequences to you. Read about the case of XLD v KZL where Cohen Davis obtained a privacy injunction to protect a victim of online blackmail
Blocking an online blackmailer might not necessarily be the answer to restoring peace and harmony in your life. The blackmailers might find alternative methods of contacting and harassing you or even worse, they might execute their threat, particularly if they believe that you will never succumb and their motivation for blackmailing and harassing you is other than purely financial.
The fear of confronting an online blackmailer is certainly reasonable. But the key to successfully handling online harassment cases, isn't necessarily confronting the blackmailer yourself but rather confronting that blackmailer from a position of strength.
You might feel reluctant to confront your online blackmailer, out of fear that they will only amplify their harassment and make the situation worse for you. This fear is certainly well founded. Often, interactions with online blackmailers could result in an escalation of the situation, but this is mainly because the blackmailer can sense the fear and terror felt by the blackmailed victim. Internet blackmail is often fed by fear and terror. After all, the very essence of online blackmail is to horrify the victim into succumbing to the blackmailer’s demands. Therefore, any confrontation of the blackmailer should be made from a position of strength and only once the victim knows that he or she has sufficient leverage over the harassing blackmailer. Speaking with a specialist solicitor, who is has dealt with similar blackmail cases in the past, is certainly a sensible thing to do for the victim of blackmail, who in most cases, will be vastly strengthened by having this conversation.
Our client “Robert”, a well known athlete called our office in a panic after he was being blackmailed by a woman he was visiting regularly in the past, on an occasional basis, for money. Robert’s family life was being threatened by the blackmailer who told him that she would destroy his family by the making public an affair that he previously had with her. Robert never had any feelings for the blackmailer he was seeing and it was mainly the lack of intimacy in his marriage that led him to visit her occasionally. He had been able to keep his relationships with her secret for nearly 10 years. During the COVID-19 lockdown, the woman contacted him and threatened to tell his family about their relationship unless he transferred a sum of money to her. Having complied with her demand once, the woman continued to blackmail him, each time demanding that he paid larger sums of money to her, or she would tell his wife and children about their relationship and to cause him tremendous embarrassment, both at home and within his profession.
The strategy of paying a blackmailer in return for peace of mind, rarely works. In the short term, paying a blackmailer could deflect some of the immediate stress faced by the victim of blackmail. Paying a blackmailer might buy you time, but in very few cases, will it make the blackmailer go away. When Robert called us, he was almost admitting defeat and he still had some hope that he would be able to contain the blackmailer by paying her a larger sum of money in return for her providing a legally binding promise (an undertaking, or a non-disclosure order) to never disclosure the private information about him and to never ask for money again.
Whilst this proposition seemed attractive to Robert, having considered the correspondence between him and the blackmailer, we advised him that on this occasion, this approach was unlikely to work because his settlement attempt was likely to be seen by the blackmailer as a sign of weakness.
He was going to send a message that he was being fearful and reluctant to confront her. From our experience, and considering the facts of his case, any action other than approaching the blackmailer from a position of strength, was unlikely to bring the blackmail to an end. Whilst Robert might have been unfaithful to his wife, this was still a private matter which involved him, the blackmailer and possibly (but not necessarily, Robert’s wife).
Having carried out further investigations about the identify and the whereabouts of the blackmailer, we have advised Robert to consider taking out a privacy injunction against her, but that before taking this step, to allow his solicitor to write to her, and serve on her in person, a cease and desist letter, which would give her very little time, opportunity or desire to continue with her blackmail and harassment campaign of Robert.
The cease and desist letter to the blackmailer proved to be highly effective as it made clear to the blackmailer that her victim was ready to obtain a privacy injunction in the high court immediately with grave consequences for her. A civil finding against her would be likely to create criminal findings too and there were other implications for her, such as a report to the authority about her receipt of unlawful income whilst claiming benefits and the non payment of tax in relation her income.
Our client managed to apprehend the blackmailer from a position of strength and the result was that the cease and desist letter to the blackmailer was highly effective.
The blackmailer, following a personal service of the cease and desist letter, had to subject herself to legal obligations similar to those of a privacy injunction, but without neither Robert nor the blackmailer having to attend court. The impact that the cease and desist letter had on Robert’s life was that his blackmailer had gone away forever. She also had to delete photos, text messages and other information that she had kept about our client, and which she had used to blackmail him.
This was one of dozens of blackmailer cases that the team has dealt with over the COVID-19 lockdown period. Whilst there are few sets rule when it comes to online blackmail, the general rule is that you should avoid giving in to your blackmailer with the hope that the blackmailer will simply take the money and go away. This outcome, in fact, very rarely materialises. Blackmailers are often obsessed with the power they have over you, as a victim and they tend to be greedy individuals who would view their victim as nothing more than a “cash cow”. Don’t act out of fear of the blackmailer. Make all your decisions after you consult with a specialist internet lawyer.
Online blackmail is often a complex matter where there is a lot at stake for the blackmail victim, his or her family and also for the blackmailer. Navigating successfully through the different interests, fears and desires of the parties in a situation of blackmail is done best in a peaceful environment and with the help and support of an experienced, professional person.
XLD v KZL Blackmail privacy injunction
Read privacy injunction blackmail (XLD v KZL) by Cohen Davis on Bailii.Org