Romance scams, a different crime of passion

Dr Natalie Gately1, Dr James McCue1

1Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, Australia

While many victims of fraud related crime suffer financial loss, victims of online romance scams often experience a ‘double hit’ with added loss of an important and significant intimate relationship. Many victims struggle to cope with unsympathetic family and friends; denial or an inability to separate the false identity of their partner, with a criminal or criminal network of offenders. Denial and disbelief can be a risk factor for second wave of the scam. This can also include money ‘muling’ for their online partner where they launder or transfer illegally obtained funds. Police have the unenviable task of informing the victim of the scam, dealing with the emotional consequences, while also warning the victim they have potentially engaged in criminal activity.  This presentation discusses the impact of romance scams, and the way in which academia and policing bodies are cooperating to assist victims.


Natalie is a principal investigator working on a number of research projects including: young offenders and youth justice; the crime/drug nexus; and public perceptions of crime related issues.  She also researches families, such as those with a family member in prison; parents of young offenders; and family structures such as stepfamilies.  She has supervised Honours, Masters and Doctoral students studying arson and firesetting related topics including juvenile arsonists; sex trafficking; domestic violence; drug and alcohol use; the impact on incarceration on families of young Aboriginal offenders; Drug Courts; Youth Drug Courts; and rape stereotypes.  She favours research in collaboration with industry partners for the benefit of the wider community.  Some industry partners have included WA Police, Department of Justice, Mental Health Commission, The Department of Fire and Emergency Services, The Perth Children’s Court, and the former Departments of the Attorney General and Corrective Services and the Drug and Alcohol Office.


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