An examination of the online romance scam

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leicester
Department Name: Sociology

Abstract

Abstracts are not currently available in GtR for all funded research. This is normally because the abstract was not required at the time of proposal submission, but may be because it included sensitive information such as personal details.
 
Description In this study we found that in Great Britain alone 230,000 individuals have fallen victim to the crime (Whitty & Buchanan, 2012).



Study1: In Study 1 we found that most of our hypotheses were rejected. The one hypothesis that was supported was that individuals higher in romantic beliefs were more likely to be victims of the scam. People with a higher tendency towards idealisation of romantic partners were more at risk of being a victim. Victims who had lost money did report significantly more distress than those who had not. However, some non-financial victims were also severely affected, some of whom experienced more distress than the average for financial victims. Correlates of emotional distress in the non-financial victims were explored to examine the amount of variance that was found for this group on emotional distress. It was found that more lonely people, more neurotic people and those with lower scores on openness to experience were significantly more emotionally affected. Women were more affected than men. With regards to financial victims neurotic men were more likely to report distress compared with emotionally stable men.



Studies 2 and 3 revealed the following:

Typology:

• Many female victims had a history of abuse prior to the scam

• Some male victims had suffered from social phobia throughout their lives.

Persuasive techniques employed to scam the victims:

• Scammers drew from typical persuasive techniques as previously identified by social psychologists (eg Cialdini's (2001) six basic tendencies of generating a positive response; the foot in the door technique and the elaboration likelihood model).

• Victims are given a limited time to respond to scammers' requests, preventing them from checking the legitimacy of requests and preventing hesitation.

• Media switching and frequent use of media is used to develop the relationship to higher levels of intimacy (ie grooming the victim).

• The 'ideal relationship' is established with someone who appears to care for the victim more than anyone else has in their lives. This relationship is experienced as therapeutic.

• Given the hyper-personal relationship that is developed the scammer is able to comply with secrecy.

The psychological consequences of being taken in by such a scam:

• Victims experience shame and depression and the level of shame and depression does not correlate with the amount of money scammed. The shame makes it difficult for the victim to turn to the social support they need to cope with the trauma of the event.

• There is a 'double hit' from being taken in by the scam: the loss of money as well as the loss of a relationship.

• Victims described themselves as being 'brain washed' and 'mentally raped'.

• Victims often cut off important social ties in the real world if that person questions the authenticity of the relationship.

• Victims vacillate through Kubler-Ross's (1969) stages of grieving (denial, bargaining, anger, depression, acceptance) after learning that the relationship with the scammer was not an authentic relationship.

• The denial can lead to a second wave of the scam.

• The relationship with the scammer might be best understood as an abusive relationship (sometimes sexually abusive).
Exploitation Route The results from this study can be used in non-academic contexts:

1. By health professionals who counsel these victims. Psychologists need to be aware of the trauma these victims experience and that the upset is both a financial and an emotional loss. Victims could be suicidal. Moreover, that family and friends often offer little emotional support.

2. Law enforcement agencies who deal with this crime. Officers need to be aware that victims have been traumatised. They need to ensure that they move from the early stages of denial into accepting they have been a victim very early on to ensure they do not become a victim of the second wave of the scam. Officers also need to be aware of the possible transference effects if they demonstrate empathy towards the victim.

3. Judges. Need to be made aware that these victims should be treated as intimidated witnesses and therefore be provided with the same conditions as any other intimidated witnesses (eg doing video statements etc). There is a dearth of research available on 'individual mass marketing fraud', in particular the psychology of these crimes. There is no research to date, prior to this project, on the psychology of the online dating romance scam. This study learnt about potential risk factors to this crime. We learnt that being high in romantic beliefs made individuals more vulnerable to this crime. However, importantly we learnt that there was little else that distinguished victims -- meaning that many types of people could fall victim to this crime.

4. Regulation bodies and authorities (e.g., ACCC in Australia)



Drawing from traditional psychological research on persuasive techniques we learnt about some of the persuasive strategies that scammers employ. What was especially unique about the research is that we learnt how the internet can be harnessed to create a fake identity and develop a 'hyper-personal' relationship with victims.



Most victims (both financial victims and those who did not lose money) were stressed by the event and many were traumatised. Many experienced the loss of the relationship as a bereavement. The denial victims experienced made it difficult for them to accept the reality of the crime and sometimes made them vulnerable to a second wave of the crime. Often family and friends provided little or no support to victims making it more difficult for them to recover. Some victims transferred their love for the criminal to a law enforcement officer again making recovery difficult. We recommend that early psychology intervention is imperative for victims of this crime.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Government, Democracy and Justice,Security and Diplomacy

URL http://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/media/research/research-groups/digital-identities-research-group/online-dating-romance-scam-project
 
Description Expert witness for sentencing romance scam criminal in court case in the USA
Geographic Reach North America 
Policy Influence Type Gave evidence to a government review
Impact In June 2016 Prof Whitty acted as an expert witness for he sentencing of Mr Sunmola in the USA who was convicted on fraud charges for scamming victims on dating sites out of money -- romance scam. The sentencing involved demonstrating evidence that the criminal had caused by financial as well as severe psychological harm to victims. On the 2nd February 2017 Mr Sunmola was given a 27 year sentence.
URL http://pulse.ng/gist/black-sheep-nigerian-fraudster-faces-127-years-in-prison-over-love-scam-id47632...
 
Description First online dating romance scam court case dealt with by the UK and Ghana
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a national consultation
Impact In November 2011 the first court case on the romance scam began where a suspect in Ghana is on trial for defrauding women in the UK. The work in this project has been drawn from to: 1. Assist in the trial (e.g., drawing from the research to assist the defence); 2: To give guidance on how to care for the witnesses being sent to Ghana for this court case. The case is now complete and the criminal was convicted and sentenced to prison.
 
Description Metropolitan Police : operation etent
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Membership of a guideline committee
Impact In this case a criminal residing in the UK was brought to trial and eventually pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud by misrepresentation. 17 victims were identified by law enforcement who resided in America, Canada and Trinidad and Tobago. At the beginning of the case the MET police spoke with Prof. Whitty to advise them on how to contact the victims (who were originally unaware they were victims) and how they should be treated. Prof Whitty emphasised that the victims would be originally in a state of denial and to be prepared to provide as much evidence as they could to help them believe the relationship was fraudulent. She advised that they could become suicidal and often family and friends would not provide support. Prof Whitty advised that they find available support agencies in the respective countries they were living in. She warned them that if a male officer was dealing with these female victims that it was likely that they would experience the 'transference effect'; that is because of the empathy displayed by the male officer, there was the risk that the women might transfer the love they felt from the criminal to the police officer. Given all of the above advise it was decided to bring a female Family Liaison Officer to deal with these victims after the police officer in charge of the case first contacted the women. Given this case was going to court the police asked advice on how the women should provide statements. It was suggested that the victims should be treated as 'intimidated witnesses' in a similar way to victims of domestic violence. Given this it was decided to give the victims an option of a video statement, rather than having to appear in court. In addition Prof. Whitty's paper under review and report were presented to the judge to help assist in deciding a sentence. The judge did read these to help arrive at a decision. The sentence decided on was 6 yrs, 4 mnths, which the MET believed to be a good result.
 
Description NFA (National Fraud Authority) academic panel
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Membership of a guideline committee
Impact In 2013 the Serious Organised Crime Agency and other agencies (e.g., National Police Improvement Agency) will merge to create a new agency called the National Crime Agency (NCA). One of the main sections of this agency will be the Economic Crime Agency. Prof. Whitty was invited to attend an academic panel (with 3 other academics) to advise government in the NFA (National Fraud Authority) about what issues this command should focus on based on the findings from their research as well as what they believe will be important focuses (based on their research) to examine in the future. To date the academics have met once (7/6/2012) but there is the intention to have subsequent meetings. The first meeting considered: an overview of NFA activities including a new Business plan; Building the Economic Crime Command (part of the National Crime Agency); roundtable discussion on current research findings; roundtable discussion on possible British Standard; roundtable discussion on where next for fraud; how academics might be involved in the Economic Crime Command and the NFA once established.
 
Description DAPM: Detecting and Preventing Mass-Marketing Fraud (MMF)
Amount £1,063,851 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/N028112/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 06/2016 
End 11/2018
 
Description Development of the online romance scam toolkits for the public sector
Amount £96,931 (GBP)
Funding ID ES/J010863/1 
Organisation Economic and Social Research Council 
Department ESRC Centre for Economic and Social Aspects of Genomics (Cesagen)
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2012 
End 04/2013
 
Description Alert to online dating companies 
Organisation Serious Organised Crime Agency
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution We worked in collaboration with the Serious Organised Crime Agency and the National Fraud Authority to develop an alert that went out to Online Dating Companies to give suggestions on what they need to be doing to prevent the online dating romance scam.
Start Year 2011
 
Description Neighbourhood watch alert 
Organisation Serious Organised Crime Agency
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Professor Whitty worked with the Serious Organised Crime Agency to create an alert to go out to a Neighbourhood watch in July 2011.
Start Year 2011
 
Description Developing victim support networks, strategies for letting victims know they are victims and the introduction of victim support 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact As a consequence of a press release the British Psychological Study conducted on our research being presented at the annual conference, a number of people conducted Prof. Whitty for assistance with their work on the romance scam. One of these organisations was the Trading Standards in Southampton. They invited Prof Whitty for a 3 hour meeting to discuss the findings and consider how these might be implemented in the work carried out at the Trading Standards Southampton branch. Suggestions included developing networks of victims to provide support for one another, new strategies to break news to victims that they are indeed victims, introductions to Victim Support to provide supper for these victims. The Trading Standards took on some of these suggestions and Prof. Whitty is in ongoing communication with them to discuss how the strategies are working and to consider development of future research considering other mass marketing frauds. The conversations are still ongoing -- this is open ended at current.

The conversations are still ongoing -- this is open ended at current. Development of strategies for the Trading Standard to implement to prevent romance scam and to support victims scammed.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
URL http://Development of strategies for the Trading Standard to implement to prevent romance scam and t...
 
Description Examination of the online dating romance scam 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact At this half-day seminar we disseminated our findings to academics, managers of online dating companies, the Serious Organised Crime Agency, ACPO, NPIA, Metropolitan Police, Scotland Yard, counsellors and computer scientists. After our presentation we had a discussion about how we could work together to prevent this crime.

Dating sites asked for assistance in changing their practices; lawyer asked for advise on a court case.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description Example of victim of online dating romance scam 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact The one show decided to film a victim of the online dating romance scam. The victim approached the One show to learn whether she was a victim or if the relationship was genuine. The One show turned to Prof Whitty and SOCA to learn if it were the case and asked Prof. Whitty how they should proceed with the case. The victim opted to be filmed on the One Show and Prof Whitty was filmed to comment on the case and disseminate findings from this project.

impart knoweledge
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Heartbreak in cyberspace 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact This lecture will discuss the types of individuals who are more likely to be scammed by the romance scam.

Imparted knowledge.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description Lured into honey traps : online scams trick hundreds of Britons 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact This is a piece that went out in the Independent which considered the online dating romance scam. Prof. Whitty is cited in this article stating:



A study by the University of Leicester found that vulnerable people, such as the recently bereaved, "might be persuaded to visit an African country where they risk being kidnapped. In some cases the victims themselves become involved in illegal activities (sometimes knowingly)".



Professor Monica Whitty, author of the paper, The Psychology of the Online Dating Romance Scam, wrote: "Towards the end of the scam, some individuals are asked to take off their clothes and perform sexual acts in front of the webcam. The recordings might be used at a later date to blackmail the victims. The fraud ends only when the victim learns they have been scammed and ceases to give money."

The Independent
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
URL http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/lured-into-honey-traps-online-scams-trick-hundreds-of...
 
Description Me, my spouse and I 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Prof Whitty has been involved in a research project, titled Me my Spouse and I, for a number of years which is run by the Oxford Internet Institute at The University of Oxford. They run annual conferences were results from this project are disseminated, together with other relevant research findings from international speakers. In 2011 Prof Whitty was asked to present her findings from this romance scam project.

Impart knowledge to colleagues and industry
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description Meeting with Facebook to inform them about grant findings 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact At this meeting Prof. Whitty and Mr Paul Davies (a Serious Organised Crime Officer) had a meeting with the research and publicity department at facebook to inform them about the findings in this research (we learnt that fraudsters were using facebook to develop fake profiles and targeting victims) and to discuss potential preventative strategies.

Section not completed
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description Online crimes 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact This lecture on online crimes examines the different types of crimes that take place online, how these are similar and different to their offline counterparts (if indeed there is an offline counterpart), the type of person affected by the crime, the ways ICTs are used in the crime and the psychological impact of the crime. The research findings from the grant are used to provide an in-depth analysis of one such crime (by way of illustration). This lecture is given to Masters students enrolled in the MSc New Media at the University of Leicester.

impart knowledge
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Online crimes 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact This lecture on online crimes examines the different types of crimes that take place online, how these are similar and different to their offline counterparts (if indeed there is an offline counterpart), the type of person affected by the crime, the ways ICTs are used in the crime and the psychological impact of the crime. The research findings from the grant are used to provide an in-depth analysis of one such crime (by way of illustration). This lecture is given to Masters students enrolled in the MSc New Media at the University of Leicester.

impart knowledge
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Online dating romance scam 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact This was a talk given to the psychology seminar series at The University of Wolverhampton. The psychology department have regular seminars, held each week, where they invite an external speaker to present their research. At this seminar Prof Whitty disseminate the results yielded from this ESRC project.

Helped staff and students with their research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Online dating romance scam press release 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact On the 28/9/11 we released a joint press release with the Serious Organised Crime Agency on a survey we conducted were we estimated that at least 230,000 individuals in Great Britain had been a victim of the online dating romance scam.

Section not completed
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description Online dating scam : latest findings 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The International Mass marketing group meet once or twice a year to present current knowledge about mass marketing fraud, share ideas on presentation, share feedback on evaluation of strategies already employed. This is a closed group and there are knowledges which we cannot share beyond the group. The group invited me to attend so that they could share knowledge to inform my research and so they can benefit from our research findings. At this particular meeting I disseminated the current findings and analysis of data from this particular grant and recommended prevention strategies based on these findings. Moreover, the group discussed potential new future research plans more broadly around mass-marketing fraud.

change in law enforcement and policing practices; inspired new research overseas.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011,2012,2013
 
Description Online romance scams : digital lotharios take to the web 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact This is a newspaper article (also online) that went out with the Huffingtonpost which is made in the USA. Prof. Whitty was interviewed and the results from this project were cited in the article. She is quoted saying:



"People fall in love very quickly online and form hyper-personal relationships," says Monica Whitty, a psychologist with the University of Leicester in England. Such connections can be "more intimate than a face-to-face relationshipPeople self-disclose a lot more information than they normally would."

But other analysts aren't entirely certain about the demographics of romantic scams because only a portion of the victimized population is willing to come forward and discuss their plights or to take legal action. Whitty recently studied 466 romance scam victims from a sample of around 1,200 online daters and found that older women weren't any more likely to fall for predators. In general, the victims she encountered had one overlapping characteristic distinguishing them from the people who had not been scammed, and it wasn't their age or their gender.



"Romantic beliefs," are the common trait, says Whitty. "The people who believe that there is an ideal perfect person out there are the people who are more prone to being victims of the scam."



Most scammers are men, analysts say, but they're savvy enough to con their own: Whitty says that predators can use apps to disguise their voices over the phone, allowing a husky-voiced male to sound like a breathy, eager young woman. Digitally enhanced, the scams just keep coming.

In Professor Whitty's interviews with victims, she found that ties to the scammer are, indeed, hard to break. One woman she interviewed was so attached to her scammer that she kept a photo of him on her iPhone.



"She'd moved on to a new relationship, and the guy was lovely, but she still compares the real relationship with the fake relationship," Whitty says. ... (read article for rest of quotes)

The Huffington Post
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
URL http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/02/romantic-predators-take-to-the-web_n_1610395.html?utm_hp_re...
 
Description Psychology of the online dating romance scam 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Invited presentation to DeustoTech, Deusto University, Bilbao, Spain.



Abstract: The online dating romance scam is a relatively new and under-reported international crime. It has serious financial and emotional consequences, which may have affected large numbers of people. Little is known about psychological characteristics that may put people at risk of victimization, or the effects of being targeted by scammers. This talk describes a project examining the psychological processes underlying online romance scams, possible risk factors, and psychological consequences for victims. Findings from two online studies will be reported, and implications for crime-prevention and victim protection will be discussed.

impart knowledge
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Romance scam : international mass marketing fraud working group 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact This group consists of law enforcement officers from across the world (e.g., FBI, AFP, SOCA, Federal Trade Commission, Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, Office of Fair Trading, Metropolitan Police, City of London Police, Serious Fraud Office, Amsterdam police etc). The group get together to share knowledge of fraud and develop international policies on how to combat this crime. The paper presented by Professor Monica Whitty at this working group was on the romance scam. The research was taken up by the group to develop international policies on how to deal with this crime.

Changes practice in law enforcement.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description Scam developments, new developments in safeguarding and adult serviced developments 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Safeguarding quarterly meeting: Hampshire region



This was a seminar/workshop which is a quarterly event that focuses on prevention and support for victims of crime that Trading Standards staff deal with in the Hampshire region. Attendees included staff at the Trading Standards in the region as well as those they work with in the region. Topics covered included Scam developments; new developments in safeguarding; adult serviced developments; and the specific regions within the Hampshire area's developments. The seminar/workshop was designed to consist both of lectures and interactive sessions.



The contribution Prof Whitty made to this seminar/workshop was a 2 hour session on disseminating the results of her research, providing suggestions on how Trading Standards might deal with victims and was involved in an interactive session. The lecture Prof. Whitty gave summarised the type of person more at risk at being scammed by the romance scam, the types of strategies the criminals employ as well as the psychological impact that the crime has on victims. In addition, she provided a summary of what she had learnt about how online dating companies were currently dealing with the crime and suggestions that herself and SOCA had discussed with them on how to prevent the crime. In the interaction session a discussion took place on how Trading Standards might be involved in educating their communities about mass marketing fraud, in order to help prevent the crime as well as a discussions on improved strategies Trading Standards might employ to better deal with victims of this crime. In particular, a discussion took place on how to deal with victims in denial to help break the cycle of victimisations. Prof. Whitty provided suggestions on how to do this based on the research findings. The feedback Prof Whitty received from this session was very positive.

This was to help improve and change practices in how to treat victims of mass marketing fraud.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Scammers on online dating sites 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A research associative at The University of Oxford in the Oxford Internet Institute interviewed Prof. Whitty about the research findings. This was created as a Youtube video and is show at the New Media Museum in Bradford.



The interview is described as: Monica Whitty (University of Leicester) discusses her recent ESRC funded work on dating scams, aided by SOCA, various online dating agencies, and victim support groups. This work has focused on attempting to identify a typology of victims, as well as to recognize the techniques used by scammers, and the psychological impact of the scams themselves. She tells Bernie Hogan (Oxford Internet Institute) about the extraordinary sums of money fraudulently obtained through these scams, and also highlights the long lasting effects felt by many victims. Because of the intimate nature of these crimes, she discusses strategies for creating more effective forms of awareness, as well as mechanisms for automatically alerting people to the potential for an online interaction being fraudulent.

impart knowledge
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
URL http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2wx-ojOkzdc
 
Description The online dating romance scam : scammers' strategies and the psychological impact on the victim 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact This lecture looks at Professor Whitty's research on the romance scam. Drawing from survey research, case studies and interviews, Professor Whitty examines this newly emerging crime, examiners the strategies scammers use and the impact this has on victims.

impart knowledge
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description The online dating romance scam : victims' profiles, scammers' strategies and the psychological impact on the victims 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact This lecture was given last semester to criminology postgraduate students (Masters and PhD students) enrolled in criminology programmes in the criminology department at the university of Leicester. Some staff also attended the lecture.

impart knowledge
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Will virtual interactions radically change the nature of human relationships 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact At a half day event organised by the friends of Le Monde Diplomatique, Prof Whitty was invited to give a lecture on the psychology of the internet and answer the question or whether virtual interactions will radically change the nature of human relationships. Another 4 speakers were invited that day. The talk given by Prof. Whitty disseminated a number of her research projects, including the research conducted for this ESRC grant.



Although invited speakers were all academics, the audience invited are the general public, with a general interest in the topic. Important to this project it helped raise awareness of the scam. We believe this important given that part of SOCA's prevention strategy fro mass marketing fraud has been to raise awareness. We hope that more people knowing about the scam will help stop them becoming a victim in the first place.

impart knowledge
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description You've been scammed 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact In 2012 Prof Whitty was approached by ICT to be involved in a television series on three television programmes titled: 'You've been scammed'. In these television programmes Prof. Whitty disseminated the findings obtained from this grant. Illustrations from victims were also included.

impart knowledge
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description visit to ACCC in Australia 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Summarised the romance scam research together with more recent research to the ACCC in Australia. This body develops legislation and policy around regulation and ensures these are adhered to. The work helped shape future policy and legislation. Online dating companies were also invited to attend by the ACCC so they could be part of the discussion on how they should/might be made responsible for the prevention of this crime. Law enforcement officers from the different states participated via video link and we discussed possible interventions based on this research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015