Acronym for the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, 18 U.S.C. §1961 et seq. RICO creates an offence predicated on a pattern of illegal activities, i.e., at least two similar acts and lists a wide array of such “predicate acts” including Mail Fraud and Wire Fraud. Most importantly, the statute provides for civil suits to be brought by victims of racketeering and for those victims to automatically receive treble damages and attorneys’ fees, and the civil suit does not require a successful criminal prosecution.
Although originally targeted at organized crime, e.g., the Mafia, etc., RICO has been successfully used against otherwise respectable companies who have transgressed against civil plaintiffs repeatedly in a similar way. State RICO laws also exist.