of knocking door-to-door or cold-calling potential victims one by one, the fraudster is now
able to communicate via the Internet, targeting a larger number of people and with a better
chance of connecting with a vulnerable target, statistically speaking.
Online (or technologically enabled) frauds can fall into a number of categories, including
email fraud, online dating fraud and sales fraud. Email frauds can include phishing (fake
emails from banks, credit societies and other companies seeking personal information) and
advance fee fraud, also known as Nigerian/419 scam (where the victim is promised large
amounts of monies after paying a transaction fee). Online dating frauds are those when
victims are targeted via dating sites or other means and lured into a “relationship” which
involves the victim sending the scammer more and more money to “help” them achieve a goal
(medical, transport, hospital, travel, etc.). Sales frauds involve people selling (or buying)
goods, either at prices which are too good to be true, or via escrow companies, which appear
legitimate but have been setup directly by the scammer themselves, using self-centred
The rise of online fraud offending across the globe using electronic means over the past
decade has been well documented. In Australia, for example, the increase in online offending
has lagged when compared to the rest of the world, partly due to delays in the
implementation of high-speed connections to the internet (Grosso, 2006). However, we are not
immune to the trend, as indicated by the Australian Government. The Australian
(Government) Institute of Criminology (AIC) survey of online consumer fraud indicated that
during the 12 months in 2013 that a) 97 per cent of respondents reported having received at
least one scam invitation in the 12 months preceding the survey; and b) 34 per cent of the
participants responded in some way to a scam invitation in the 12 months preceding the
survey (Jorna, 2015). The Online Retail Sales Index, published by the National Australia
Bank, reported that in July 2013, “online retail sales rose to $14.1 billion in the year to July
2013, a level which is equivalent to 6.3 per cent of traditional retail spending” (Ouster, 2013).
This increasing trend of online spending as well as the ever-increasing accessibility to
“high-speed” internet, both at home/work and on a mobile platform (Belson, 2013), has
allowed more and more people to access e-commerce sites. The downside to this is that it has
allowed a multitude of offenders to enter into criminal enterprises to defraud people of their
money. As the online footprint of individual users increases due to the ever-growing number
of social media platforms, there is an increased likelihood that users are “cross pollinating”
their personal identiers Saridakis et al. (2016), for example, reported that:
Social networks enable data accumulation on a previously unimaginable scale, yielding both
benets and undesirable consequences for their users. Among such inadvertent outcomes of social
networking use are breaches of personal information security.
After investigating the levels of internet-related fraud offending, we found that the topic has
received a large amount of attention in various areas, especially over the past couple of years.
These areas included books, journals and other print media as well as socially based
information sources such as websites, forums and bulletin boards. Within this body of
knowledge, there exist a variety of different viewpoints with regard to the cause and means
of cybercrime. These include a focus of the use of “data mining” social platforms for user
particulars, the impacts of online fraud offences on the victim (Saridakis et al., 2016) and
attempts to map and rationalise online offending (Yar, 2005).
A large number of these studies have used statistical analysis to determine the levels of
offending, such as Jorna (2015),Vahdati and Yasini (2015),Stabek et al. (2010) and Anderson et al.
(2013). However, there is a lack of research (both qualitative and quantitative) in which actual
empirical data have been obtained from law enforcement agencies within Australia. Without this