Dr Cassandra Cross and Dr Kelly Richards, both researchers in the Crime and Justice Research Centre, recently published an article in a special issue of Current Issues In Criminal Justice, guest edited by Dr Alyce McGovern of the University of New South Wales. The special edition, which focused on crime, media and new technologies, features a number of established and emerging scholars from Australia and abroad.
Cross and Richards’ article, ‘The ACA effect: Examining how current affairs programs shape victim understandings and responses to online fraud’, built on research undertaken as part of a Criminology Research Grant on responding to online fraud victimisation in Australia. The project, which was undertaken in partnership with Dr Russell G Smith of the Australian Institute of Criminology, involved qualitative interviews with 80 victims of online fraud from Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth, about their support needs and experiences of reporting fraud to police and other authorities.
In the article, Cross and Richards draw attention to the use that some victims of fraud make of television current affairs programs (such as A Current Affair – the ‘ACA’ of the article’s title) to obtain assistance in the aftermath of fraud victimisation. A key finding of the major study (to be published in 2016) was that victims of online fraud almost universally experience an unsatisfactory response when reporting fraud to police in particular. In light of this, a group of victims turned to current affairs programs in an attempt to obtain a more satisfactory response. The article argues that this is driven, in part, by sensationalised media accounts of elaborate police ‘sting’ operations in which police track perpetrators of online fraud to far-flung international locations and perpetrators are then investigated, prosecuted and punished for their crimes. Unfortunately, however, this is rarely the case in reality for most victims of fraud. As the article concludes, such misleading media coverage of online fraud creates unrealistic expectations on the part of victims, and in turn often exacerbates the already substantial impacts of the crime on victims.
To access the article, click here.