29 August 2016

Reporting more traumatic than the crime

Author :

Last year Australians lost $45 million to online scams yet it remains one of the least reported crimes.
Surveys have revealed that only a third of all victims of online scams and fraud report the crime in an official capacity.

Often the experience of reporting is as traumatic as the victimisation itself and the barriers facing the targeted individual prevent justice from being achieved.

Oh, the shame

There is often a stigma associated with falling victim to online fraud with a common attitude being that they brought the experience on themselves. The tendency to blame online fraud victims results in their reluctance to report the crime.

In an interview quoted on The Conversation, a victim revealed his experience: “I expect [the police] to be sympathetic, but these two police guys, they just laugh, I was humiliated […] I submitted a police report, and I made a statement and they tell me ‘we cannot do anything about this with you and your lover boy in [overseas country], you just write to Scamwatch’.”

It’s not just the money

The impacts of online scams can reach further than your bank account. Victims often experience depression, turbulence in personal relationships and unemployment. There are limited specialised support services available for victims of online scams and fraud.

Where do you file your report?

From reporting to consumer protection agencies to officially reporting with police, victims often feel overwhelmed by their options and ultimately fail to act at all. Victims may also find themselves on a ‘merry-go-round’ of responses, being sent from one agency to the next. Telling their story repeatedly to no avail results in increased frustration and ultimately lost faith in the justice system.

When I asked police which avenue was best to report through, they directed me to the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network. As the name suggests, ACORN allows you to securely report cybercrime incidents online and includes an education portal aimed to address the crime before it occurs. 

Claire Dowler is a Conference Producer with Akolade. She recently graduated with a double degree: a Bachelor of Journalism and a Bachelor of Media and Communications Studies majoring in International Communication. Claire minored in sarcasm and puns.

A ballroom-dancer who collects salt and pepper shakers and volunteers for animal rescue, you might say Claire has eclectic interests.

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