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Romance Scam Research Center

2023: US: What Money Can Do: Examining the Effects of Rewards on Online Romance Fraudsters’ Deceptive Strategies

Timothy Dickinson, Fangzhou Wang & David Maimon (2023) What Money Can Do: Examining the Effects of Rewards on Online Romance Fraudsters’ Deceptive Strategies, Deviant Behavior, 44:9, 1386-1400, DOI: 10.1080/01639625.2023.2197547


Abstract: "With the advent of the internet, romance fraud – or instances wherein individuals use fake identities and sham romantic relationships to defraud others – has moved online. Victims of this crime experience harms to their financial, social, and personal well-being. While researchers have made strides in exploring this crime from the perspective of victims, little research has investigated it using data drawn from the persons committing the crime. Moreover, little is known about how these offenders may alter their strategies in response to variations in perceived reward. In this study, we explore these processes utilizing data collected via a series of sequential e-mail exchanges with 94 online romance fraudsters. More specifically, we investigate the deception strategies used by these fraudsters and examine whether and how these strategies shift in response to changes in the prospect of receiving financial reward from a victim. Our results add to current understanding of online romance fraud and have implications for theories of interpersonal deception and rational choice."

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