The problematic nature of jurisdiction for online fraud victims.

One of the biggest challenges of the fight against crime is that crimes that travel worldwide, such as computer crimes including fraud, travel through various jurisdictions. The police and law enforcement model that we apply is not suited to the reality of online fraud. Several cases have shown that it is not uncommon for a fraudster to victimize prey living in a different country, asking them to send money to a third country. These frauds are costing states worldwide; for example, Australia reports losing $ 340 million due to this type of crime in 2017, $ 64 million in investment fraud and $ 42 million in fraud romantic. However, despite its costs, fraud is still very little covered by law enforcement agencies. Australia is one of the countries which, for the moment, does not prioritize this type of crime. Indeed, in this country, each state and territory has a police agency founded according to geographical limits and borders. Each of these agencies is responsible for crimes committed in its region and is empowered to intervene through state legislation. As of the article’s date, no study has examined how the concept of jurisdiction has caused negative experiences for victims of online fraud, nor how misconceptions surrounding jurisdictions are damaging. Moreover, studies of fraud have focused primarily on police and other law enforcement agencies, never focusing on victims of this crime.

            This is why this article wishes to focus on this scientific knowledge gap by using victim accounts to demonstrate a false or inaccurate understanding of how jurisdictions work when it comes to online fraud. Additionally, it attempts to deconstruct how the false perceptions and ideas attached to these jurisdictions seem to be perpetuated by victims, police, and other law enforcement agencies.

            To do this, the author analyzed cases of jurisdictional issues in Australia. It examines the relationship between AFP (the state/territory police) with other organizations in the Australian justice network acting against fraud and international law enforcement agencies. A qualitative study was conducted through the research project focusing on Australia’s fraud victims (Cross et al., 2016). They conducted 80 semi-structured interviews with internet fraud victims, who all reported losing at least AUD 10,000$. From the analysis of the transcripts of these interviews, a first theme emerged from the analyzes. Called “merry-go-round” in English, it could be translated as merry-go-round or whirlwind in the sense that victims were constantly sent from one police agency to another.

After coding and analyzing the interviews, the researcher came to the conclusions that:

  • The current approach and use of jurisdictions for cybercrime are problematic and dysfunctional in Australia (and globally).
  • The jurisdictions impact the various groups involved by them, the police, the courts of justice, and particularly the victims.
  • The comments shared by the participants demonstrate the need for immediate change to solve the crimes of Internet fraud.
  • Despite the creation of ACORN (Australia’s Cybercrime Reporting Network) a step forward, their interventions are still insufficient.
  • It is essential to educate the public and the police directly about Australia’s police service’s responsibilities.
  • The AFP has too narrow a scope of the law, which has the consequence of limiting their responsibilities.

This study sheds light on the importance and needs to focus on online fraud. As much as this article has a significant empirical contribution, being one of the first to focus on the victims and not only on the police agencies’ point of view, it has a considerable social impact. Although the study focuses only on the Australian case, it is evident that all countries would benefit from improving their approach to courts to have a real and significant impact on the rise in online fraud.

To cite: Cross, C. (2019). ‘Oh we can’t actually do anything about that’: The problematic nature of jurisdiction for online fraud victims. Criminology & Criminal Justice.