Racketeering: Illegal Businesses Run by Organized Crime Organizations

Learn about racketeering.

What is Racketeering?

A racket is an illegal business, usually run as part of organized crime.  Engaging in a racket is referred to as racketeering.

Several forms of racketeering exist.

  • The best-known form of racketeering is the “protection racket”, in which criminals demand money from businesses in exchange for the service of “protection” against crimes that the racketeers themselves instigate if unpaid
  • A second well known example of of the crime is a “numbers racket”, a form of illegal lottery.

Traditionally, the word “racket” is used to describe a business that is based on the example of the “protection racket” and indicates that the speaker believes that the business is making money by selling a solution to a problem that the business itself created (or that it intentionally allows to continue to exist), specifically so that continuous purchases of the solution are always needed.

For example, in a protection racket, a representative from the racket informs a store owner that a fee of a certain amount of dollars will be required every month to serve as protection money, though the “protection” that is provided comes in the form of the racket itself not causing damage to the store or its employees. This practice is often seen in movies about the mafia and the mob.

The term racketeering was originally coined by the Employers’ Association of Chicago in June 1927 in a statement about the influence of organized crime in the Teamsters union.

Private investigators may be hired to investigate various crimes related to racketeering. Detectives may go undercover in an attempt to obtain proof, or they may conduct surveillance to observe the behavior of certain individuals.

If you have any questions about racketeering, please post a message below.

More Information

For more detailed information, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racket_(crime).

For more legal definitions, visit our Glossary of Legal and Investigation Terms.


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