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Romance Scam Research Center

2021: UK: Theorising the impact of COVID-19 on the fraud victimisation of older persons

Cross, Cassandra.  The Journal of Adult Protection; Brighton Vol. 23, Iss. 2, (2021): 98-109. DOI:10.1108/JAP-08-2020-0035



The purpose of this paper is to understand how COVID-19 may alter the vulnerability levels of older persons, and how this may change their potential for fraud victimisation. This is particularly focused on the government’s use of isolation, restrictions on activity and physical distancing to combat the virus.


In the absence of statistics, this paper examines what is currently known about older persons and fraud, as well as the recent knowledge of COVID-19-related fraud. On this basis, the paper hypothesises the conceivable changes to vulnerability that potentially expose older persons to fraud.


This paper argues that COVID-19 has not seen “new” fraudulent approaches, rather offenders have used COVID-19 as a context to their existing schemes. Further, the current response to COVID-19 can substantially increase the number of older persons experiencing levels of vulnerability, and therefore increase their fraud risk.

Research limitations/implications

The current paper applies existing knowledge into the current circumstances of COVID-19 and lays the foundations for empirical work to be conducted in this area.

Practical implications

This paper provides an impetus to target the well-being and connectivity of older persons, (regardless of the COVID-19 context), to reduce their vulnerability to fraud victimisation.

Social implications

This paper highlights the importance of connectivity for older persons, and the need to focus on overcoming social isolation and loneliness.


This paper is the first to hypothesise the effects of COVID-19 and its associated government responses to the overall vulnerability of older persons, with a focus on the potential for fraud victimisation."

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