The psychology of internet fraud victimisation: a systematic review

Gareth Norris*, Alexandra Brookes, David Dowell

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    11 Citations (Scopus)


    Existing theories of fraud provide some insight into how criminals target and exploit people in the online environment; whilst reference to psychological explanations is common, the actual use of established behavioural theories and/or methods in these studies is often limited. In particular, there is less understanding of why certain people/demographics are likely to respond to fraudulent communications. This systematic review will provide a timely synthesis of the leading psychologically based literature to establish the key theories and empirical research that promise to impact on anti-fraud policies and campaigns. Relevant databases and websites were searched using terms related to psychology and fraud victimisation. A total of 44 papers were extracted and 34 included in the final analysis. The studies range in their scope and methods; overall, three main factors were identified: message (n = 6), experiential (n = 7), and dispositional (n = 21), although there was some overlap between these (for example, mapping message factors onto the dispositional traits of the victim). Despite a growing body of research, the total number of studies able to identify specific psychological processes associated with increased susceptibility to online fraud victimisation was limited. Messages are targeted to appeal to specific psychological vulnerabilities, the most successful linking message with human factors, for example, time-limited communications designed to enact peripheral rather than central information processing. Suggestions for future research and practical interventions are discussed.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)231-245
    Number of pages15
    JournalJournal of Police and Criminal Psychology
    Issue number3
    Early online date2 Jul 2019
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2019


    • Compliance
    • Fraud
    • Internet fraud
    • Psychology
    • Scam


    Dive into the research topics of 'The psychology of internet fraud victimisation: a systematic review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this