Senior criminology lecturer is lead adviser to major police anti-fraud campaign

  • Thursday, October 8, 2020

Dr Elisabeth Carter joins forces with the City of London Police to combat and raise awareness of the increasingly common crime of romance fraud.

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A major new anti-crime campaign is launched today, 8 October 2020, by the City of London Police (CoLP), to protect the public from romance fraud, a growing crime in which vulnerable individuals are groomed and persuaded to give money to criminals posing as potential romantic partners.  Advising the police is Roehampton's senior criminology lecturer Dr Elisabeth Carter, a specialist in forensic linguistics with a specific interest in how language is used by the fraudsters to manipulate their victims. 

Explaining the reasons behind the initiative, Detective Chief Superintendent Alex Rothwell of the CoLP says: “Romance fraud is a devastating crime that impacts victims both financially and emotionally. It is a crime that we in policing across the UK, are committed to tackling with help from key partners. Through this campaign we want to empower people to understand what to look out for and feel confident that if they have fallen victim to a fraud, they can report it to us. Criminals are experts at impersonating people. They spend hours researching you for their scams. We’re reminding everyone to stop and think: fall for the person, not the profile, it could protect you and your money.”

The campaign launches in the wake of a 26% year-on-year increase in reported romance fraud. Between August 2019 and August 2020, Action Fraud, the police's reporting service, received over 400 reports a month from victims of romance fraud in the UK with losses by victims totalling over £66 million. However during June, July and August 2020 they received more than 600 reports per month, suggesting an increasing trend for people meeting and talking to romance fraudsters online during lockdown.

Dr Carter’s forensic linguistic research is changing the landscape of scam prevention and protection and reimagines what scam communication looks like; this kind of fraud has come a long way from badly-written demands for money and has entered the realm of subtle psychological abuse. She has recently finished filming a contribution to the second series of For Love or Money, a 10-episode series about online dating scams to be aired on BBC One.

Dr Carter's research into the techniques used by online fraudsters has attracted widespread media interest. Listen here to her being interviewed on BBC Radio Berkshire.