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In the News: CJRC researchers investigating victims of romance fraud & online scams


CJRC researcher Dr. Cassandra Cross from the School of Justice, Faculty of Law, has been featured in QUT News discussing her research on victims of romance fraud and online scams. 

Together with fellow CJRC researcher Dr Kelly Richards and Dr Russell G. Smith from the Australian Institute of Criminology, 80 in-depth interviews have been conducted with victims of online fraud who had lost $10,000 or more to investigate their reporting experiences and support needs.

Their research suggests that online fraud and romance scam victims found the experience of reporting the fraud and achieving justice to be as traumatic and harrowing as the victimisation itself.

“Australians lose about $2bn a year as a result of fraud,” Dr Cross said.

“About one third of our participants were romance fraud victims, another third had been defrauded over advance fee investment opportunities where the victim sends a small amount of money in the hope of receiving a large sum later.

“The remaining participants reported a combination of fraudulent approaches such as lottery and inheritance schemes.

“Many participants said they had decided to report to the ACCC in the hope of recovering their money and see the criminal face justice. Others also were keen to ensure it didn’t happen to other people.”

Participants said they were mostly disappointed with and frustrated by the lack of action taken on their behalf, Dr Cross said.

“A key barrier to reporting online fraud is the confusing array of agencies to whom to report from consumer protection and other government and non-government agencies, to financial institutions, telcos and law enforcement agencies.

“Participants stressed that they needed a clear and definitive answer to their requests for help, even if the outcome was unfavourable.

“Victims said that being constantly referred on to other agencies, given excuses for lack of action, receiving unsympathetic official letters and being blamed for their predicament were almost as damaging as the fraud itself and aggravated the emotional impact of it.

“They told us they would rather be told from the start if the matter wouldn’t be investigated instead of being given false hope and misleading advice, and passed from agency to agency.”

To read the full article, click here.

To access the published research report, click here.


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