We adopt the criminal event perspective and explore how online fraudsters make use of urgency cues in their interactions with potential victims throughout the progression of an online advance fee fraud attempt. Integrating theoretical claims from the “Interpersonal-Deception Theory” with situational explanations of crime, we hypothesize that fraudsters’ initial presentations of verbal cues of urgency are followed by consistent presentation of both verbal and non-verbal urgency cues. Moreover, we predict that the consistent presentation of urgency cues is more pronounced when fraudsters receive confirmation that a situation is conducive to online fraud. To test our hypotheses, we posted a large number of “for-sale” advertisements designed to attract illegitimate users of a major classified ad websites, and interacted with online fraudsters who responded to our ads over email. Our findings confirm both hypotheses and highlight the relevance of cyberspace in advancing our understanding of the interaction between targets and offenders.
Short, J. F. (1998). The level of explanation problem revisited—The American Society of Criminology 1997 presidential address. Criminology, 36(1), 3-36