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Romance Scam Research Center

2022: US: How Do Individuals Justify and Rationalize their Criminal Behaviors in Online Romance Fraud?

Offei, Martin; Andoh-Baidoo, Francis Kofi; Ayaburi, Emmanuel W; Asamoah, David.  Information Systems Frontiers; New York Vol. 24, Iss. 2, (Apr 2022): 475-491. DOI:10.1007/s10796-020-10051-2

Abstract: "Online romance fraud (ORF) is a growing concern with such serious negative consequences as financial loss or suicide to the victim. Majority of empirical studies on online romance fraud using attachment, deception, protection motivation and relation theories focus on the victim. While neutralization offers insights into how individuals justify their deviant behaviors, the results have not been consistent in different contexts. In the ORF context, offenders may not only rely on justifying techniques but also rationalize their actions by denying risk both to the victim and the offender. Thus, drawing from the neutralization and denial of risk theories, we develop a research model to explain how online romance offenders justify and rationalize their intended criminal activities. To confirm our theoretical model, we collected 320 responses from individuals at Internet Cafés alleged to be online romance fraud hotspots. Our results highlight the boundary conditions of neutralization techniques in the context of online romance fraud. The study shows that denial of risk, a rationalization mechanism, moderates the relationship between denial of victim, a justification technique, and intention to commit romance fraud. This insight advances the frontiers of neutralization theory. We offer both theoretical and managerial implications of the findings."

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