The impact of fraud on an individual victim can have devastating consequences. Not only do victims experience a financial loss, but in many cases the impacts extend to their physical health and emotional wellbeing as well potentially enduring relationship breakdown, unemployment, homelessness and in extreme cases, suicide or suicide ideation. Despite the prevalence of fraud victimisation globally, and its severe consequences, there are limited support services available to victims to assist with their recovery.
This article explores a case study of an Australian jurisdiction and the establishment of a face-to-face peer support group targeted exclusively at fraud victims. Based on interviews with fraud victims prior to the commencement of the support group and then one year after the establishment of the support group, this article highlights both the benefits and challenges of this peer support model. Though exploratory in nature, the article concludes with the need to provide greater levels of support to fraud victims and considers the role of face-to-face peer support groups as a means to achieve this.Cross argues
Crime is well established as an event which can have long lasting consequences on an individual victim. As noted by Green, Choi, and Kane (2010, p. 732) “crime is a traumatic event that is often followed by continuous adjustment to a number of financial, social, physical, and psychological losses”. This is particularly the case for fraud victims. While compared to other crime types, there is a relatively small body of research examining the impact on these victims, the literature is consistent in documenting the extent of the consequences suffered. These go beyond the expected financial losses and extend all aspects of one’s life (Button, Lewis, and Tapley, 2009; Cross, Richards, and Smith, 2016a, 2016b; Cross, Smith, and Richards, 2014).
The availability of support services for victims of fraud is limited across the globe (Cross et al., 2014). Even when they do exist (for example Victim Support in the United Kingdom), many victims do not access or engage with these services (Lowe et al., 2016, p. 22). This article provides an exploratory examination of the use of peer support groups (PSGs) to assist victims of fraud in their recovery. It draws from interviews with participants of a support group that was established in Western Australia in late 2014. Using victim narratives, this article explores the benefits and challenges of a face-to-face model of peer support to assist in recovery. To achieve this, the article will first provide a background to fraud (with a focus on romance fraud) as well as the establishment of peer support and its use to assist individuals with a range of circumstances. Second, it will provide details of the method employed in this study, as well as its limitations. Third, the article will present the key themes that were evident in the interviews and demonstrate how they reinforce the use of peer support in other contexts. Lastly, the article will conclude with some thoughts on the role of peer support into the future. Overall, this article highlights that face-to-face PSGs have potential to be both a positive and important mechanism to facilitate support for fraud victims in their recovery, notwithstanding a number of specific challenges