Do Blackmailers Give Up If You Ignore Them? Featured Image

Do Blackmailers Give Up If You Ignore Them?

A new online acquaintance sent you a strange message claiming to have recorded your recent intimate video chat. They are threatening to share that recording with your friends and family if you do not pay them immediately. In these scary situations, it can be tempting to delete the message and hope the problem goes away—but you are right to wonder: Do blackmailers give up if you ignore them?

The complicated answer is yes and no. Most blackmailers will move on to another victim if you do not respond to their messages. Since replying to them is more likely to escalate the situation than resolve it, we usually recommend not engaging with them directly. However, it is never a good idea to ignore blackmail completely. In the wake of a blackmail threat, you should take actionable steps to preserve evidence, report the perpetrator, and protect your digital footprint.

There is no way to guarantee whether a blackmailer will give up, so it is also important to consult with an experienced sextortion attorney to assess the credibility of the threats, communicate with the blackmailer on your behalf, work to prevent the release of sensitive media, and end the harassment quickly and discreetly.

In this article, we explain what can happen if you ignore a blackmailer and what factors influence their response. We also provide actionable tips for responding to a blackmail threat effectively.

Do Blackmailers Give Up if You Ignore Them?

It is normal to feel scared and isolated when a blackmailer threatens you. You may not know how to respond or where to turn for help. Would responding to their message make things better—or much worse?

First, know that you do not have to face this situation alone. An experienced legal team like Minc Law can offer objective advice and invaluable assistance. We also recommend confiding in a trusted friend or family member who can provide emotional support along the way.

Below, we discuss considerations to keep in mind when deciding whether to ignore a blackmailer.

Should You Ignore Blackmail Threats?

It is never recommended to ignore a threat of blackmail. However, there is a significant difference between ignoring a threat and not responding to the blackmailer.

Following a blackmail threat, you should always take action to protect your digital security and preserve evidence of the perpetrator’s actions. Do not bury your head in the sand and hope the problem will go away. But at the same time, it is also rarely a good idea to reply directly to the blackmailer’s messages.

Blackmailers commonly give up when their victim does not respond. In most cases, it is not in their best interest to continue blackmailing you—and most are not motivated to follow through on their threats. It is usually easier for them to move on to a victim who is more easily manipulated rather than spend additional time on one who does not comply.

What Can Happen if You Ignore a Blackmailer?

Ignoring blackmail may only make your anxiety and fear worse. If you try to ignore the situation instead of taking proactive steps to protect yourself, the continued uncertainty can affect your mental health and well-being.

Also, some blackmailers may escalate the harassment or try to punish you if they feel ignored. While most blackmailers never follow through on their threats, it is still possible that a blackmailer may share the sensitive content.

Explicit content is not allowed on most social media sites, and most platforms have established measures to remove adult content quickly. So most blackmailers opt to send the content privately to specific friends or family members rather than post it publicly online.

For further reading, please see our guides ‘What to Do If Someone is Blackmailing You on Snapchat’ and ‘Someone Recorded Me on Skype & is Blackmailing Me’.

Factors That Affect if a Blackmailer May Give Up

Some blackmailers quickly give up on a victim who refuses to engage—while others escalate the situation instead. The factors that influence their reaction mostly depend on their situation and their prior experience with you.

In this section, we examine a few factors that can determine how a blackmailer will respond if you ignore them.

Level of Prior Success

Blackmailers who have previously succeeded in extorting money or other benefits from their victims may feel emboldened to persist. A history of cooperative victims can lead them to believe that, with enough pressure, even the resistant ones will eventually cave.

Number of Total Available Targets

Many cyber blackmailers cast a wide net, targeting multiple victims at once. If they are juggling numerous targets, they might prioritize victims who show signs of giving in over those who remain silent.

Conversely, if they are only focused on you, their persistence may increase.

Perceived Risks & Country of Residence

The perception of potential legal consequences plays a significant role in a blackmailer’s decision to keep pushing or give up.

If they think they can operate with impunity, they might continue. They may feel more secure if they live in a region with poor international cooperation or lax cybercrime laws. However, if they know of stringent laws against blackmail in your jurisdiction, or theirs, and the likelihood of enforcement, they may be deterred.

Degree of Organization

If the blackmailer is operating alone, they may be less likely to waste time and resources harassing a victim who does not respond right away. But if they are part of an organized group, they may have more ability to be patient and continue harassing you.

Technology Proficiency

Blackmailers with advanced technological skills can use more sophisticated methods to track and harass victims. These approaches make it harder for you to evade detection or ignore them effectively.

Because of these types of perpetrators, it is crucial to lock down your online accounts. Maximizing your privacy settings on all platforms helps keep them from finding information about you or contacting you.

If They Have a Personal Vendetta

The reasons behind the blackmail can significantly affect a blackmailer’s determination. If they are driven by personal animosity or a vendetta, their emotional investment might make them more relentless. Their actions might be fueled more by revenge than monetary gain.

Belief in Your Chances of Paying

Finally, a blackmailer’s persistence depends on how easy a target they think you are. If you entertain their threats or attempt to negotiate, they will see you as easily manipulated. But if you stop all communication once they start threatening you, it shows them you will be harder to control.

Also, if they firmly believe they have information or material that can damage you, they might push harder and longer. They likely believe their leverage will eventually make you yield. On the other hand, if their so-called “evidence” is weak, they might move on more quickly if you do not cooperate.

What is the Definition of Blackmail?

Blackmail is commonly understood to be a threat of sharing negative information unless you pay money to keep it quiet. This characterization is generally accurate; however, the legal definition is a bit more complex.

Legal Definition of Blackmail

Blackmail is the crime of threatening to share harmful information about a victim unless they pay a ransom of some form. Most perpetrators seek money, but others demand other benefits (like sexual favors).

It is important to note that the crime of blackmail happens as soon as the perpetrator makes their threat. They do not need to follow through on their threat or receive a ransom to have committed a crime. If a blackmailer threatens you, they are breaking the law regardless of how you respond.

Many online blackmailers operate internationally, so U.S. federal and state laws are not always relevant to the case.

However, under 18 U.S.C. § 873, blackmail is a federal crime punishable by a fine or up to one year in prison. Blackmail is defined under this federal statute as: “Whoever, under a threat of informing, or as a consideration for not informing, against any violation of any law of the United States, demands or receives any money or other valuable thing, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.”

What is the Difference Between Extortion & Blackmail?

The terms “blackmail” and “extortion” are commonly used interchangeably. Some states define blackmail as a type of extortion.

Most states define extortion as the crime of using threats of injury or harm to coerce a victim to take a specific action. Blackmail, therefore, is a subcategory of extortion that involves threatening to reveal harmful information.

Since both extortion and blackmail entail coercing something of value out of the victim, both crimes are classified as theft (or “larceny”).

Most Common Types of Online Blackmail

Blackmail is always the threat of sharing harmful information or content about you unless you do what the perpetrator wants. The crime of blackmail can take a few common forms, including:

Revenge Porn

Revenge porn is the act of sharing your intimate images or content without your consent. These crimes are usually committed by someone you know (such as an ex-partner with a grudge).


An unfortunately common scam, sextortion is a form of blackmail where the perpetrator targets you online and convinces you to share explicit images, texts, or videos. The stranger then threatens to share the intimate material with your family and friends if you do not pay a ransom.

Celebrity Blackmail

In these celebrity imposter scams, the perpetrator creates a fraudulent online account posing as a famous person. If you are a fan of that celebrity, the perpetrator fosters a relationship with you and eventually coerces you into sending explicit content. They then use that content to extort you.

Immediate Steps to Take if You Receive a Blackmail Threat

While we rarely recommend responding directly to a blackmailer, that does not mean you should ignore the threat altogether. In this section, we list actionable tips for reacting to a blackmail threat and ending the harassment effectively.

Do Not Panic

It can be extremely frightening and isolating to receive a threatening message from a blackmailer. As much as possible, try to remain calm and focused. Blackmailers use your panic and shame to manipulate you.

You might feel you have no other option but to do what the blackmailer says, but this is not true. You have more control than it seems.

Preserve Evidence of the Blackmail

Your knee-jerk reaction may be to delete the perpetrator’s messages and any material they have sent you. But remember, the blackmailer is committing a crime—and the more evidence you have, the easier it will be to hold them accountable.

Save copies of any messages the blackmailer sent you, and take screenshots of their online profile(s) and relevant posts. Also, try to create a clear and accurate timeline of events. Your attorney and law enforcement will need as much proof and context as you can give them.

Avoid Engaging Further with the Blackmailer

No matter how tempted you are, do not reply to the blackmailer’s messages. As soon as they begin threatening you, stop engaging with them.

Communicating with the blackmailer or attempting to negotiate with them just shows you can be manipulated. If you respond to their messages, they are more likely to escalate the harassment.

Lock Down Social Media & Online Profiles

It is a good idea for everyone to maximize their online privacy settings. But for victims of blackmail, it is even more important to protect your digital privacy.

All major social media platforms allow users to set their profiles to private or public, determining who can see and interact with them. Set your online accounts to the maximum privacy possible, and do not accept friend requests from strangers.

Report the Blackmail to the Platform & Authorities

If the blackmailer reached out to you on a dating or social media website, you can report them to the platform. Their profile can be suspended, which makes it harder for them to target and harass other victims.

To learn more about reporting blackmail on various online platforms, see our articles:

You can also help bring the blackmailer to justice by filing a report with your local police, as well as the following federal and international agencies:

  • Your local Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Field Office,
  • Internet Crimes Complaint Center (IC3), and

If you or the victim is underage, you can also report the incident to the National Center For Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).

Pursue Mental Health Support

Being targeted by a blackmailer can take an extreme mental and emotional toll. Many victims suffer both immediate and long-term mental health effects including anxiety and depression.

If you are experiencing thoughts of self-harm, please know that you are the victim here—and nothing is worth hurting yourself. Please call the Suicide Prevention Helpline at 988 for 24-7, judgment-free support.

Anyone who has been the victim of a blackmail threat should confide in trusted family, friends, or a mental health helpline. A psychiatrist or psychologist can also provide professional, long-term mental health support and guidance.

For further reading, please see our comprehensive guide ‘How to Stop Blackmail’.

Work With an Attorney Who Specializes in Blackmail

Online blackmail is a nuanced and complex legal field. It can be difficult to know the remedies available to you in your jurisdiction, not to mention how to follow proper reporting procedures.

An experienced blackmail attorney can help you evaluate your options, preserve evidence, and report harassment. If the blackmailer follows through on their threats, an attorney can send cease and desist letters to the perpetrator and effectively remove harmful content from the internet.

Equally importantly, an attorney can function as an objective, judgment-free source of support during this difficult situation.

“I was recently a victim of a predator trying to extort me. I was lost and had not idea what to do till I found Minc Law. Dorian and Anna were amazing, patient and completely understanding of my situation. I followed their expert advice and the problem went away and I fell like a weight has been lifted off my shoulder. I cannot thank Minc Law enough for protecting my reputation. I would recommend Minc Law to anyone in a similar situation. They are simply the best. Thank you for everything.”

March 10, 2023

If you would like to explore your options to handle online blackmail and put an end to the attacks, reach out to schedule your initial consultation by calling us at (216) 373-7706 or filling out our online contact form.

Are you being defamed online? Contact Minc Law today!

This page has been peer-reviewed, fact-checked, and edited by qualified attorneys to ensure substantive accuracy and coverage.

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