Roehampton Criminologist Publishes Guidance on Avoiding Scams

  • Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Dr Elisabeth Carter collaborates on important new guidance to protect vulnerable individuals from sinister online scammers

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Public opinion is often unsympathetic toward people who fall victim to scams, particularly romance fraud, when criminals strike fake up online romances with vulnerable individuals and trick them into parting with money. ‘How could they be so gullible?’ is a common response, but new research by Roehampton’s Dr Elisabeth Carter in partnership with The University of Bournemouth shows us how scammers skillfully manipulate language and use techniques designed to make victims feel at ease and deflect suspicion.

This research is now published in a guidance document for NHS England and the National Centre for Post Qualifying Social Work, entitled The Language of Scams. The guidance is essential reading in relation to scams and safeguarding practices, an issue intensified by the backdrop of COVID-19. With large numbers of people now alone in isolation or being shielded, and a nationwide increase in fear and uncertainty around money and health, a whole swathe of society has been launched into a vulnerable and precarious situation that fraudsters are keen to exploit.

It highlights some of the techniques and tactics scammers use to target people and manoeuvre them into positions where they believe they are making reasonable choices but are in fact being groomed into financial exploitation. Crucially, it also highlights how, far from the popular idea of the gullible or vulnerable person 'falling for' a scam, the reality is that they are victims of highly skilled criminals.

As well as practical advice on how to protect those at risk of scams, this guidance will also help safeguarding professionals and practitioners understand the realities of scamming as a grooming practice.