Detecting and Preventing Mass Marketing Fraud (DAPM)

Dates: July 2016 – August 2018

Lead researchers: Professor Monica Whitty and Professor Tom Sorell, University of Warwick, Professor Awais Rashid, University of Lancaster, Professor Angela Sasse, UCL


This project developed novel techniques to detect and prevent online mass marketing fraud (MMF), a major and growing problem that generates significant social anxiety and psychological impact. MMF is a serious, complex and organised crime. Examples include foreign lotteries, advance-fee scams and romance scams. As more effective prevention and detection techniques and strategies are needed to tackle this crime. the work involved detecting assumed identities and persuasive messaging used by fraudsters and the factors leading to poor decision making by victims.

The project included academic and non-academic partners from law enforcement, regulatory bodies, industry, the third sector and citizens.

It provided insights into the psychological and technical factors that lead to poor decision- making by existing and prospective victims of such frauds to develop tools and techniques. These can form the basis of practical interventions in tackling such fraud. Ethical issues were also investigated.

Policy implications

This project developed algorithms, guidelines and practices that organisations can use to counter fraud. The research with project partners in law enforcement and intelligence agencies in different countries aimed to help them with in identifying fraudulent online content, tracing criminals and collecting appropriate forensic evidence to help increase chances of successful prosecution. The research publications also detail the ethical and social constraints involved in automated methods to prevent MMF and suggests considerations for using automated systems.


Algorithm development, global mapping of victims and fraudsters, development of victim typology.

Funders: EPSRC, ESRC

External collaborators: Federal Trade Commission, Barclays Bank plc, United Kingdom, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, City of London Police, the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission, CIFAS, Hampshire County Council, My Mate Your Date, Fraud Help Desk (Netherlands), Western Australian Police, Fraud Women’s Network, Scamalytics, Online Dating Association.


Posted on

December 9, 2021