Ransom Money

Ransom is the practice of holding a prisoner or item to extort money or property to secure their release, or it can refer to the sum of money involved.

According to Federal laws, whoever receives, possesses, or disposes of any money or other property, or any portion thereof, which has at any time been delivered as ransom or reward in connection with kidnapping [18 USCS § 1201], knowing the same to be money or property which has been at any time delivered as such ransom or reward, shall be fined or imprisoned for not more than ten years, or both[i].

Federal statute further states that, a person who transports, transmits, or transfers in interstate or foreign commerce any proceeds of a kidnapping is punishable under State law by imprisonment for more than 1 year.  Moreover, a person who receives, possesses, conceals, or disposes of any such proceeds after they have crossed a State or United States boundary, knowing the proceeds to have been unlawfully obtained, shall be imprisoned not more than 10 years, fined or both.[ii]

This section specifically includes conduct prohibited by 18 U.S.C. § 1202, requiring that ransom money be received, possessed, or disposed of with knowledge of its criminal origins.  The actual demand for ransom under these circumstances is reflected in § 2A4.1.  This section additionally includes extortionate demands through the use of the United States Postal Service, behavior proscribed by 18 U.S.C. §§ 876-877.[iii]

Furthermore, in  18 U.S.C. §§ 876-877, Whoever knowingly deposits in any post office or authorized depository for mail matter, to be sent or delivered by the Postal Service any communication, with or without a name addressed to any other person, containing any demand or request for ransom or reward for the release of any kidnapped person, shall be fined or imprisoned for not more than twenty years, or both.[iv]


[i] 18 USCS § 1202

[ii] 18 USCS § 1202

[iii] 18 USCS Appx § 2A4.2

[iv] 18 USCS § 876


Inside Ransom Money