Profiling consumers who reported mass marketing scams: demographic characteristics and emotional sentiments associated with victimization

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1 Scopus citations


We examine the characteristics of consumers who reported scams to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. We assess how consumers vary demographically across six scam types, and how the overall emotional sentiment of a consumer’s complaint (positive, negative, neutral/mixed) relates to reporting victimization versus attempted fraud (no losses). For romance, tech support, and prize, sweepstakes, and lottery scams, more older than young and middle-aged adults reported victimization. Across all scam types, consumers classified as Black, Hispanic, and Asian/Asian Pacific Islander were more likely than non-Hispanic white consumers to report victimization than attempted fraud. Relative to complaints categorized as emotionally neutral or mixed, we find that emotionally positive complaints and emotionally negative complaints were significantly associated with victimization, but that these relationships differed by scam type. This study helps identify which consumer groups are affected by specific scams and the association between emotion and victimization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalSecurity Journal
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The research reported herein was performed pursuant to a grant from the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) funded as part of the Retirement and Disability Research Consortium through the University of Michigan Retirement and Disability Research Center Award RDR18000002-03. The opinions and conclusions expressed are solely those of the author(s) and do not represent the opinions or policy of SSA or any agency of the federal government. Neither the United States government nor any agency thereof, nor any of their employees, makes any warranty, express or implied, or assumes any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of the contents of this report. Reference herein to any specific commercial product, process or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise does not necessarily constitute or imply endorsement, recommendation or favoring by the United States government or any agency thereof. The authors would like to thank the millions of U.S. consumers who reported fraud to the Federal Trade Commission and made this study possible.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s).


  • Bayesian Improved First Name Surname Geocoding (BIFSG)
  • Consumer complaint
  • Consumer sentinel
  • Emotion
  • Financial fraud
  • Sentiment analysis


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