SCARS™ Psychology of Scams: Psychology Of The Online Dating Romance Scams – A Research Report [PDF]

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SCARS™ Psychology of Scams: Psychology Of The Online Dating Romance Scams – A Research Report [PDF]

SCARS™ Psychology of Scams: Psychology Of The Online Dating Romance Scams – A Research Report [PDF]

The Psychological Consequences Of Being A Victim Of The Online Dating Romance Scam

Research Undertaken at The University of Leicester

This report summaries a year-long project, led by Professor Whitty, which examined the online dating romance scam. The three main aims of the project were to: identify psychological characteristics of individuals which raise their risk of becoming victims; examine the persuasive techniques employed to scam victims of the online dating romance scam; examine the psychological consequences of being a victim of the online dating romance scam.

Principal Investigator: Professor Monica Whitty (University of Leicester), Co-investigator: Dr. Tom Buchanan (University of Westminster)
Report compiled: April, 2012

Report Executive Summary

This report summaries a year-long project, led by Professor Whitty, which examined the online dating romance scam. The three main aims of the project were to: identify psychological characteristics of individuals which raise their risk of becoming victims; examine the persuasive techniques employed to scam victims of the online dating romance scam; examine the psychological consequences of being a victim of the online dating romance scam.

Drawing from the qualitative work conducted in the project a summary of the anatomy of the scam is made.

Study 1 considered the types of people more at risk of this scam. The only finding was that those high in romantic beliefs were more likely to be victims, in particular, those who have a high tendency toward idealization of romantic partners. Contrary to statistics gained on the reporting of this crime, middle-aged women were not more likely to be victims of this crime.

Study 2 examined the three main objectives of the project. This study examined 200 posts on a public online peer support group. Some victims wrote they had previous abusive relationships. The fake profile contained stereotypical characteristics that men and women look for in a potential mate. Through the use of ICTs ‘hyperpersonal relationships’ were developed. The ‘Scammers Persuasive Techniques Model’ is developed here to explain the success of these scams. A range of psychological impacts is also reported.

Study 3 examined the three main objectives of the project. In-depth interviews were conducted with 20 victims. Most of the women had experienced a highly abusive relationship earlier in their lives. Some of the men reported a history of mental health problems. Further support was found for the ‘Scammers Persuasive Techniques Model’. In addition, it was found that victims were also drawn in because of the ‘unconditional positive regard’ displayed by the criminal. Victims experienced a double hit from the loss of monies and the loss of a relationship. Victims found it very difficult to let go of the relationship and visualize that it was not real even when they believed they had been scammed. Victims went through the stages of grieving after learning they had been scammed and those in denial were vulnerable to a second wave of the scam.

This report concludes by providing advice to online dating companies, law enforcement, policymakers and health professionals. Online dating companies need to make information about the scam visible on their sites. Others need to be aware that victims are vulnerable and special care needs to be taken when the news is broken to victims.

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TAGS: SCARS, Important Article, Information About Scams, Anti-Scam, Dating Scam Report, Dating Scam Research, Romance Scam Analysis, Romance Scam Report, Romance Scam Research, Professor Monica Whitty, University of Leicester, Dr. Tom Buchanan, University of Westminster,

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