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Personal Fraud Victims and Their Offical Responses to Victimization

NCJ Number
Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology Volume: 17 Issue: 1 Dated: Spring 2002 Pages: 19-35
Kent R. Kerley; Heith Copes
Date Published
17 pages
Using survey data from a random sample of 400 residents of Knox County, Tennessee, this study investigated the characteristics of victims of 13 different types of fraud.
The survey was administered over a 2-week period in June 1994. The survey gave respondents a list of 13 types of fraud and asked if they had been the victim or attempted victim of that type of fraud during the past 5 years. The dependent variables were fraud victimization and the reporting behavior of fraud victims. The independent variables were the characteristics of the victims and the fraud. A total of 224 respondents indicated they had been victimized by a personal fraud, resulting in a total 5-year victimization rate of 56 percent. After dividing individuals into categories of non-victims, one-time victims, and repeat victims, the researchers developed profiles of personal fraud victims by examining differences in key demographic and offense characteristics. The study found that victims were most likely to be between the ages of 18 and 34, have some college, and make between $15,000 and $50,000 per year. Victims were most likely to be initially victimized by a stranger and then, if victimized again to be victimized by someone they knew. The survey also found that repeat victims lost an average of $200 more than one-time victims in their first victimization. Regarding reporting behavior, fraud victims had a low overall reporting rate (23 percent) and were reluctant to report to police (10 percent for one-time victims, 5 percent for repeat victims). The reporting rate for personal fraud was considerably lower than for other nonviolent predatory crimes. Information obtained from the survey can be used by police officers to educate at-risk residents about fraud victimization and to encourage residents to report to police if they are victimized. 4 tables and 50 references


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