Modelling Extortion Rackets

Extortion is a different kind of crime to other property crime such as burglary, robbery or even fraud. What makes extortion unique is a) the long-term relationship of the criminal with the victim and b) the reliance on the threat of future punishment rather than actual punishment. The two aspects lead to extortion often being modelled as interdependent choice, i.e. a game between a victim and an extorter with the actions to pay or not and to punish or not (e.g. Gambetta, Smith and Varese).

Extortion rackets have additional interesting features as they are socially embedded. E.g. the belief that an extorter might punish non-payment results from somebody else having been punished. The belief that an extorter will not arbitrarily punish might also result from the knowledge that others pay and do not get punished. Similarly, knowing that others pay might make it more acceptable to pay.

An agent-based model is presented to investigate some possible mechanisms underlying extortion rackets. Starting from a model that uses a game theoretic framework, models looking at more social or collective embeddings of agent behaviour are developed, analysed and contrasted.


Tuesday, 21 January, 2014 - 12:30 to 14:00
Corinna Elsenbroich
Presenter(s) biography: 

Corinna Elsenbroich is a research fellow based in CRESS.