Project Details


Fraud and cybercrime, through a wide variety of genres, have become some of the most common crimes individuals experience and such is the scale of the problem, RUSI (a highly respected think tank) have described it as a threat to national security. Older adults represent promising targets for criminals because they are often cash rich with pensions, lump sums, life savings. Many also have traits that increase the chances of victimisation: cognitive decline; social isolation; a lack of capable guardian to protect them. The pandemic has also meant many older adults have spent more time at home and online, contributing to increased victimisation.

The growing use of digital technologies has been a huge benefit in many areas of social and economic life, but has also opened up new risks. Access and usage of the internet is no longer limited to the younger, tech-savvy population. The ONS (2021b) reported the proportion of those aged 75 years between 2013 and 2020 reporting recent internet use has nearly doubled from 29%, to 54% in 2020. However, despite their gradual familiarisation with information technologies, it is argued that older adults can often be vulnerable to cybercrime risks. The problem of fraud and cybercrime against older adults has stimulated a wide range of initiatives around the world to attempt to address this problem, but there has been surprisingly little research charting initiatives to counter such crimes and virtually none that has evaluated preventative initiatives using high quality methodologies (Prenzler, 2020). Juxtaposed to these developments has been the advanced technological developments associated with the so called '4th Industrial Revolution' (4IR). Some of the technologies associated with 4IR are already being utilised to prevent fraud and cybercrime, such as the use of data-analytics to counter banking frauds (Kim et al., 2019).

This project seeks to build a network of researchers in the UK and South Korea interested in fraud and cybercrime against older adults. It will do this by conducting research using desk-based strategies and interviews mapping the strategies used to counter fraud/cybercrime against older adults in the UK and South Korea; any evidence of their effectiveness; and to explore the potential for technology to be better utilised.

The project will build the network through two seminars and two conferences held in the respective countries. The first will bring together academics from the two countries (and others where appropriate) who have explored this area, with relevant practitioners and technology companies (including early career researchers where possible). These seminars will explore initiatives and potential ideas to tackle these crimes and enable participants to network. They will also seek to identify how technology could be better utilised to prevent fraud and cybercrime against older adults. The final conferences will be used to present the findings from the project, showcase good examples; as well as enable wider networking for participants, further strengthening academic networks between the two countries.

The investigators will produce a research report and other high-quality outputs, which will also facilitate another objective of the project to produce a website with resources of use to academics, students and others interested in this area. It will contain a repository of relevant articles, reports, publications; descriptions of emerging technologies and their potential; links to relevant websites; the research report and recordings from the conferences; and profiles of key members of the academy with an interest in this area. These activities are envisaged to form the basis of a longer partnership of Anglo-Korean scholars interested in economic crime issues.

Effective start/end date1/02/2231/12/23


  • Economic and Social Research Council, UK: £50,143.00