“I wasn’t expecting anything anymore”: The challenges of reporting online fraud in Australia

C. Cross1*, K. Richards2

1 School of Justice, Queensland University of Technology
2 School of Justice, Queensland University of Technology

*corresponding author: ca.cross@qut.edu.au

This paper presents results from the first national study to examine the reporting experiences of online fraud victims in Australia. The study involved qualitative interviews with 80 individuals who reported losses to online fraud of at least $10,000 to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). The paper presents the experiences of victims in their attempts to report their online fraud incident to a wide range of agencies, including law enforcement agencies. Based on the narratives of these victims, the paper details the overwhelmingly negative experiences of individuals, through an inability to report the incident; through the trivialisation or minimisation of what occurred; and through both direct and indirect victim blaming by the agency towards the victim. As a result, the paper also highlights how the reporting experience both exacerbated and added to the level of trauma and distress already suffered by online fraud victims. Based on these findings, the paper advocates required changes to improve the reporting experience of this particular group of victims, and concludes by locating these results in a broader discussion on how this can impact on the reporting of other crimes and can undermine public confidence in police as a whole.


Cassandra Cross is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Justice, Queensland University of Technology. Her main area of research examines all aspects of online fraud, including prevention, policing and victim support. She has received two highly competitive Criminology Research Grants, one in 2013 to conduct the first Australian study into the reporting experiences and support needs of online fraud victims; and one in 2015 to examine the restoration of identity for identity theft victims. She is co-author (with Professor Mark Button) of the book entitled “Cyber frauds, scams, and their victims”, which will be published by Routledge in 2017.


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