Academic Minute Podcast

Stacey Wood, Scripps College – Our Approach to Fraud Needs to Change

On Scripps College Week: Our approach to dealing with fraud needs an overhaul.

Stacey Wood, Molly Mason Jones professor of psychology, puts together the evidence to show us why.

Stacey Wood, Ph.D. is a clinical neuropsychologist and the Molly Mason Jones Professor of Psychology at Scripps College in Claremont, CA. She received a B.A. in Bio-Psychology from Middlebury College, and a Ph.D. in Clinical Neuropsychology from the University of Houston. Wood completed further post-doctoral training at UCLA. She now oversees the Neuropsychology of Decision-Making Lab at Scripps and has published extensively in the areas of aging, decision-making, and susceptibility to financial elder abuse. Wood also works as a consulting neuropsychologist on elder fraud cases related to older adults for Riverside and San Bernardino County for APS, and across the country.

Our Approach to Fraud Needs to Change

Have you or someone you know been a victim of fraud? If so, that’s not unusual.

A recent survey from MacAfee indicated that phishing is becoming increasingly sophisticated, and as a result, consumers are more likely to “click” on phishing emails, increasing engagement rates and placing consumers at risk for compliance and financial loss. McAfee, the antivirus software company, completed a survey of 7,000 individuals in seven countries to better understand phishing-type scam exposure, engagement, and compliance. Their startling results indicate almost ubiquitous exposure to scams around the world, on a daily basis. They note that there are now fewer spelling mistakes and typos, and as a result, it is extremely difficult for consumers to use those cues to help identify scams.

Compliance refers to the consumer’s victimization, or compliance with the text instructions which results in monetary loss. Compliance with scams is much, much higher than previously thought, with recent studies suggesting monetary loss about 45 percent of the time after engagement.

Our work with fraud victims and related research has found that consumers report non-economic losses like irritation, depression, lost time, feeling foolish, and becoming less confident. According to the survey, most consumers would choose a one-time root canal over a year of scam messaging.

People often blame fraud victims for being foolish or trusting enough to fall for a scam. But it’s time to accept that it can happen to anyone. It’s a problem so large we need to revise our concept of fraud as something that only happens to gullible or vulnerable people. The human brain simply can’t keep up with all of the new technology-enabled types of fraud.

Read More:
[Psychology Today] – Stacey Wood


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