Blackmail: v. to willfully steal private information and threaten to reveal it to the public and/or police and/or legal authority and/or a family member if property which is frequently money and/or privilege is not given
If you have money, are in a relatively prestigious reputable position, are in a position to grant favors or privileges, and have committed a secret crime such as adultery, fraud, or stealing then you may be a potential victim for blackmail. If someone has found out and has proof of immoral adultery or criminality then they can potentially blackmail you and ask to be paid or will threaten to reveal the crime to spouse, police, legal authority, or the public, whichever will scare you the most and immerse you in fear.
There may be other personal secrets which you may not want to surface such as mental illness, bad health, illegal drug use, misdemeanor offenses in the past, lying on resumes, a bad job history, bad grades, or other seemingly private information which you think is vital to keep secret. Blackmail in these areas may not always succeed but a clever blackmailer may try to derive some personal benefit from the knowledge.
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