Online romance scams and victimhood

  • Tom SorellEmail author
  • Monica Whitty
Original Article


Online romance scams defraud dating website users of large amounts of money and inflict serious psychological harm. Victims of these scams often blame themselves for their losses and are blamed by others. We consider whether victims actually do share responsibility with the scammer for their losses. Three sorts of cases are particularly relevant: (i) where there are relatively many abortive meetings and even more fruitless money transfers in a single scam; (ii) where someone is a repeat scam victim; and (iii) where the victim has been warned by authorities that they are currently a victim of a scam and pay anyway. We argue that responsibility sometimes is shared, but that losses can be out of proportion to imprudence. Scam victims sometimes violate epistemic norms, but in ways that are peculiar to romantic attachment. The paper combines the methods of qualitative psychological research on scam victims and analytic philosophy (Research for this paper was supported by Grant EP/N028112/1 from the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council).


Online dating Hyperpersonal internet use Online fraud Romance scams Moral responsibility Epistemic ethics 



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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Limited 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of WarwickCoventryUK
  2. 2.University of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia

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