Seminar: Professor Monica Whitty - Loved and Lost: The Online Dating Romance Scam

Wednesday, February 17, 2016 12:30 - 13:30

Lunchtime talk

The romance scam is a mass-marketing fraud, which emerged around 2007. Whitty and Buchanan (2012) estimated that almost 230,000 people may have been conned by romance fraudsters in Great Britain alone. In this scam, criminals pretend to initiate a relationship through online dating sites or social networking sites with the intention to defraud their victims of money. At a very early stage the scammer declares their love for the victim and requests that their relationship move from the dating site to Instant Messenger and email.

This paper reports the findings of two studies that were carried out in the UK to gain a better understanding of the typology of the victims of this scam. The first study asked victims of the romance scam (N = 397) and online daters (N = 853) to complete a battery of personality scales to examine the typology of victims compared with online daters. The second study carried out in-depth interviews with 20 victims about their experience and their understandings as to why they believe the criminal was able to trick them and scam them out of money. Overall, we found some distinctive personality traits that distinguish these victims, but also concluded that persuasion theories as well as the understanding of how ICTs are used to build a trusting relationship with the victims were critical in elucidating the reasons why individuals are conned by this particular mass-marketing fraud. The findings have implications for crime-prevention as well as to provide appropriate support for these victims.


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4th floor Linkway, John Medley (Building 191)