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  • Writer's pictureSteven Lee

First Crowdfunding Campaign LAUNCHED!

Today, I launched my first ever crowdfunding campaign to solicit donations for my dissertation research.

My research questions whether individuals know if they have been defrauded. I hypothesize that people who experience down markets are more likely to claim fraud than those whose accounts increase in value over the same time period. Another way of saying this is people misconstrue bear markets with fraud because both result in loss.

The funding campaign will run 14 days; Any excess funds will be used for other research projects related to fraud and misconduct in financial services.

Large data sets that ask respondents whether they have been defrauded take them at their word. It is doubtful that someone would lie when asked directly (although plenty of evidence in the literature suggests many will not volunteer that information out of shame, reluctance, or other sentiment). The challenge is verifying whether that person has indeed suffered fraud. Both false positives (people claiming they have been defrauded when they have not) and false negatives (claiming no fraud when in fact they have been defrauded) are at play in this type of research. My research is important because it seeks to uncover who can rightly tell if they have been defrauded through fictitious simulation. Respondents will be randomized into control (no fraud) and treatment (fraud) groups as well as bull and bear markets as shown on a fictitious brokerage account statement.

I will survey 384 people (the amount needed to qualify as a random sample of United States adults). asking them to examine a sample brokerage account statement after viewing a sample financial advisor advertisement. In addition, I will collect demographic and personality trait data from respondents (but no personally identifying information). Once the data have been collected, I will calculate summary statistics/one-way frequencies as well as binary logistic regression to determine statistical significance of those who can and cannot successfully identify fraud.

In lay terms, I will determine whether age, race, ethnicity, marital status, education, and other demographic and personality trait information disproportionately succeed or fail at identifying fraud. To my knowledge, no other study has ever investigated this. Fraud is difficult to research for many reasons. There is no universal consensus on what constitutes fraud or whether it should even be considered a separate offense from other crimes (theft, for instance). Also, many victims of fraud refuse to come forward and just want to move on with their lives. Third, fraud often implies premeditation or malicious intent, which is in itself difficult to prove. Even the Internal Revenue Service has a difficult time demonstrating in court that the taxpayer intended to defraud the government.

Please consider donating to my dissertation research. Through your generosity, I will contribute my findings to the body of knowledge on fraud. Following this, I plan to defend my dissertation in December and secure a tenure-track job as an assistant professor. Fraud effects all of us either directly as victims or friends/family of those victimized or indirectly as consumers whose insurance premiums and base costs of goods and services are often increased due to the financial loss of companies due to fraud. In order to effectively combat fraud, we must study it. With your help, we will add to our existing fraud knowledge base.

Thank you for your consideration and support!

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