Online fraud victimisation in Australia: Risks and protective factors


Online fraud includes dating or romance scams, deceptive sales of products and services, dishonest investment schemes, lottery or inheritance scams, working from home scams or lottery fraud involving false prize draws or sweepstakes. These frauds are costly not only in their financial impact on business and government, but also because of the detrimental impact they have on victims. To gain a better understanding of online consumer fraud, the Australian Institute of Criminology worked with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to compare a matched sample of victims and non-victims. This study aimed to identify and quantify the factors that make some individuals more vulnerable to consumer fraud than others. It was found that greater familiarity with online activities resulted in a reduced likelihood of victimisation and that victims were more likely to have used money wire transfers and electronic funds transfers to send money in response to scam invitations than other forms of payment. These findings support the development of targeted awareness-raising campaigns focusing on the online behaviour most likely to lead to fraud victimisation. It offers policymakers and consumer affairs organisations opportunities to better target fraud prevention and education initiatives.


  • Acknowledgements
  • Executive summary
  • Introduction
  • Methodology
  • Results
  • Characteristics of the sample
  • What makes a victim of online fraud
  • Life events and personal characteristics of participants
  • Preventive factors used by victims and non-victims with online activities
  • Victimisation and repeat victimisation
  • Consequences of victimisation
  • Discussion
  • Policy implications
  • References
  • Appendix A: Preventing consumer fraud victimisation in Australia survey
  • Appendix B: Text of email sent to ACCC survey respondents